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W.C. Butler Heating and Air Conditioning Blog

Are You Changing Your Furnace Filter Often Enough?


There is a plethora of advice we can offer to help your heating system perform better and be more energy-efficient each fall and winter. We also have plenty of heating systems to choose from and expert services to make sure your heating system stays in great condition throughout the years. But if there’s any piece of wisdom we can share that could help you take control over the efficacy and efficiency of your furnace it’s this–change its air filter!

Yes, this is a small maintenance task that homeowners can (and should) do on their own on a regular basis. The air filter isn’t there to protect your indoor air quality, but the furnace itself. Read on to learn more!

The Purpose of Your Furnace Air Filter

In order to help you understand what exactly the air filter in your furnace does, it’s first important that you understand what it doesn’t do. It’s not there to clean the air in your home, although this is a pretty common misconception about the component.

While it can remove some of the particles circulating around the home, this isn’t the main job of the furnace air filter. For filtered, healthier air, you should arrange for your indoor air quality to be checked and addressed by a professional to see what can be done–such as the installation of a whole-house air purifier.

What the furnace air filter actually does is protect the interior components of the system itself from the particles that get drawn in through the return air vents. A large amount of lint and dust can get into the furnace cabinet and cause damage to the furnace’s efficacy.

When the Filter Is Too Clogged

The furnace air filter doesn’t have any way to clean itself, so eventually, it will gather enough debris to get too clogged up. Just like you don’t want a lint catcher in your clothes dryer to get too clogged up–because your clothes won’t effectively dry and your dryer will waste energy–you don’t want your furnace’s air filter to get stopped up with dirt and debris–the furnace won’t work as efficiently as it is supposed to.

So, how often does your furnace air filter need to be changed out? Well, it depends on the strength of the air filter, as well as how often you are running your furnace. Inexpensive panel air filters typically need to be replaced about once a month. Stronger pleated filters can typically last about three months, and sometimes longer. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking monthly on your filter to see if it’s getting clogged so you’ll have an idea of how frequently you need to change it.

Can I Get a Permanent Air Filter?

Sure! They do need to be cleaned though, and you have to be careful to ensure that when you clean it (gently, with water) that it is all the way dry before you put it back in the furnace. Otherwise, the combination of warmth and moisture can cause mold and mildew to begin forming inside your furnace, and that is definitely not a problem you want.

For quality furnace service, contact W.C. Butler Heating and Air Conditioning.

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