One of the most common questions we get asked is how often should furnace filters be changed. Changing your furnace filters is the easiest things you can do to keep your heating and cooling system running in tip top order. This simple act keeps your system running efficiently, avoids system breakdowns and can lengthen the lifespan of your system. For this reason, it is extremely important you change your filters on time. So how often do we need to change our filters?

Filter Type

Filter types are determined by their MERV Rating. A MERV Rating, Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, measures the effectiveness of filtration. The higher the MERV Rating the more effective the filter is at not allowing air particulates to pass through it. The MERV rating also determines generally how often to change your furnace filter. MERV 8 filters should be changed every 3-4 months, MERV 10 & 11 filters every 6 months and MERV 16 filters every year.

Household Factors

There are certain household factors that could change how often to change furnace filter. First, do you have an air purifier? If so, you will end up needing to replace your furnace filters more often. Air purifiers improve the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in your home because they clump the air particulates together so they get stuck in your furnace filter and aren’t circulated throughout your home.

Ohter factors in needing to change your filter…………

  • Animals in the home
  • Lots of dust in the home
  • Keeping the heating and/or AC fan on
  • Smoking in the home
  • Keeping the windows open
  • Individuals who suffer from allergies or asthma
  • Young children in the home

Visual Check

If you are still unsure about your furnace filter change frequency, you can complete a visual check. If there is only a thin layer of dirt where you can still see the filter underneath it, then you probably don’t have to change the filter. However, if there is a thick layer of dirt on where you can’t see the filter underneath it then it’s time to change it out. We recommend doing a quick visual check on your filter every 3-4 weeks if you are unsure about your furnace filter replacement frequency.

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Some self cleaning furnace tips. If you are unsure, give is a call.

1. Make Sure you check your filter at least once a month.

The purpose of the furnace filter is to prevent dust and hair from clogging your furnace. But after the filter has been in place for a while, it gets full of debris. Your furnace then has to work harder to pull air through the densely packed filter, which places extra stress on the furnace.

How often you need to change your filter will depend on a lot of things. How often you clean, whether or not you have pets, and recent renovations can all make a difference. A good rule of thumb is to check the filter monthly for debris. If you can see hair and dust on the surface, then replace the filter or wash it if it’s the reusable kind.

2. Should you use a Programmable Thermostat

They are one of the best ways of reducing your monthly gas bill, and they often pay for themselves in one year. They also reduce wear and tear on your furnace.

A simple 5-day/2-day programmable thermostat is not expensive, and it will allow you to set up a schedule for weekdays and weekends that will lower the temperature when you’re away from home or sleeping. We are really keen to using these new products because it helps regulate the cold and warmth within the house while you don’t have to.

3. Make Sure all Registers are Open and Free of Debris

In order to work efficiently a furnace needs to be able to freely circulate air around your home. Make sure none of your registers are blocked by furniture or have trapped dust in the cover. Be careful when purchasing decorative registers – they look great but can restrict as much as 50% of the air flow.

4. Keep the Area Around the Furnace Clear

Most furnaces are kept in the basement, where we also love to store extra belongings. It’s really important to keep a three to five foot area around your furnace completely clear of stored items. This is a safety issue because there is burning gas in the furnace. But it also helps the furnace run smoother because air can circulate freely.

5. Curtains are a Great Way to Save Energy

Strategically using your curtains can make a noticeable difference in your energy bill. By closing them at night, you can prevent heat loss to the cold outdoors.

Opening them in the day on south or west-facing windows allows warm sunshine to enter and heat the inside of your home, just like with a car left in a parking lot. On any north windows, try to keep them closed, even during the day.

6. Get Regular Furnace Tune Ups

Make sure you have your furnace inspected and tuned up every year to ensure its running at peak efficiency. One faulty part can place strain on the rest of the system, and can lead to sudden breakdowns.

7. Use Ceiling Fans

It may sound odd to use a fan in the winter, but they can help even out the overall warmth of your air. Heat naturally rises, and tends to collect near the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan on low to push the hot air down to the floor works especially well in rooms with vaulted ceilings.

8. Bake More in the Winter Months

Give your furnace a break by using the oven more. It will heat the entire kitchen area and may help heat your entire ground floor. There are other benefits too: not only will you feel better with a nice home-cooked meal, your house will smell great.

9. Decorative Insulation

Carpeting and area rugs on floors help insulate against drafts. They also feel great underfoot, help with soundproofing, and make us feel warmer because they’re so cozy looking.

10. Keep a Good Humidity Level

Most people notice that the air in our homes tends to be really dry in winter. It’s not only drying on skin and throats, but it can make us feel colder than we really are. Using a humidifier to bring your humidity level up to about 40% will help transfer heat better. You can lower the setting on the thermostat and not notice it. More humidity is also better for wood floors and furniture, and can help prevent asthma and allergy attacks.

11. Make Sure your Garage Door is Sealed

The garage is one of the biggest culprits of energy loss in the modern home. Make sure the garage door is touching all the way down and there aren’t any drafts around the sides are top.
By following these tips, you’ll keep your furnace running smoothly all winter long. You’ll also stay cozy and warm for less money.