Fall Filter Fixes

By Virtual Results on September 18, 2015

Okay, some home maintenance items just don’t make the urgent list.

Changing your furnace filter doesn’t often make the cut. As we head into autumn, take a moment to check your furnace filter to get it ready for a winter workout. You can check it with the help of your local furnace inspection professional.

Why your filter is important

A filter protects the blower on your furnace from dirt and debris. Its basic function is to keep the dirt from the air out of your furnace, but specialty filters can reduce airborne dust, remove allergens and pet hair, and improve air quality.

The filter’s location at the air in-take means that particle removal happens before air is heated and forced through your home’s vents. Since the air from your vents is clean, you may not notice that your furnace isn’t running efficiently, but a clogged it can lessen the life of your furnace. The extra wear and tear that pulling air through a dirty filter causes may lead to inadequate airflow, overheating and even complete shutdown of the system.

Ideally, you should get any needed air conditioning repair and maintenance at least once per year. If your system involves just a furnace, then check the filter monthly during the cold season and again in the fall just prior to cool weather returning. If you have a complete HVAC system, the filter affects your air conditioning unit as well so you may want to hire a handyman like this Chicago HVAC repair team to check it out for you. A dirty filter in the warm season can cause the air conditioner’s cooling coils to freeze up, stressing the AC system.

Here’s what to do

Experts suggest checking the filter every month and changing it at least every three. Check your owner’s manual for information on the filter’s location and the best size and type of filter to use. Determine if you have a disposable filter or a reusable filter. A disposable filter typically has a cardboard frame while a reusable one is made of plastic or metal.

  • Disposable:
    —Turn off the furnace system. This means shutting it off at the fuse box, the circuit breaker or a furnace cutoff switch.
    —Remove the cover from the filter holder.
    —Remove the filter from it’s housing either inside the furnace or at the return air vent. The existing filter probably has a marker indicating the correct position to install the filter so that the airflow goes toward the furnace. Make a note of this so you can correctly install the new filter.
    —On the new filter, look for the markings that indicate the airflow direction and match them up to the correct flow direction toward your furnace.
    —Replace the cover.
  • Reusable:
    —Turn off the furnace system. This means shutting it off at the fuse box, the circuit breaker or a furnace cutoff switch.
    —Remove the blower door or locate the filter in the return air vent.
    —Use either your regular vacuum or a wet/dry vacuum to remove dust from the filter. Vacuum the area around where the filter goes as well.
    —Wash the filter. You can do this outdoors using a garden hose or indoors in the bathtub or shower (although this is messier). Be sure to spray the water in the reverse direction of the airflow at the end to make certain no dust particles are left on the inside of the filter.
    —Allow the filter to dry completely before you reinstall it.
    —Check the filter for indicators of which direction should face the furnace and reinstall the filter, insuring that loops or clips are in their proper position.

If this seems like a lot to do, or if your furnace filter location is awkward, consider hiring a certified HVAC service to check, change or clean your filters for you. They can also do furnace repair if your furnace is broken.

If you’re planning to sell your home, keeping your furnace in great working condition contributes to its resale value.

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