Your furnace needs regular maintenance so it can keep you warm all winter long. Even if you schedule an annual visit from Comfort Systems for a full inspection and tuneup, your heating system needs some care from you as well.

Changing your own furnace filters is simple enough and goes a long way to keeping your home comfortable and healthy. Learn why you need to switch out to clean furnace filters on a regular basis and what schedule to follow.

Why Does a Furnace Need Clean Filters?

The filters used in home heating and cooling systems remove dust and other debris from the air as it travels through the system. While that results in cleaner air overall for your health, it also protects the more sensitive parts of the furnace.

Dust and debris build-up tends to slow down fans and damage sensors. Dirty air filters become clogged and reduce the amount of air that flows through them. That means you get less hot air arriving where you want it, increasing your energy costs while also reducing overall comfort.

How Filter Thickness Affects the Changing Schedule

The thicker the furnace filter, the more dust it can hold before it needs replacement. However, you can’t simply stick a thicker filter into your system. You must use the air filters designed for your furnace so everything operates as intended.

Using a thicker filter changes the pressure and airflow in the system, putting extra wear and tear on the furnace and blowers. As long as you’re using the right thickness of filter for your furnace, you’ll want to follow the usual changing schedule:

  • 5-inch filters need changing every 9 months to 1 year
  • 4-inch filters need replacement every 6 to 9 months
  • 3-inch filters need changing 4 to 6 months
  • 2-inch filters need replacement every 2 to 3 months
  • 1-inch filters need changing monthly.

If you have pets or a lot of dust coming into your home during certain seasons, you may need to change your furnace filters even more often.

Tips on Choosing the Right Furnace Filter

Aside from matching the right thickness for your furnace system, you’ll want to look for a filter that’s designed to trap as much debris as possible.

HEPA-rated filters and electrostatic options are helpful for people with allergies who need to trap as much dust and pollen as possible.

For a residential home, look for a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13. This is a good balance between trapping dust and letting plenty of airflow through to reduce wear on the furnace.

Changing to a Reusable or Washable Furnace Filter

If your system calls for a thinner air filter and you find yourself replacing it monthly, you might consider it somewhat wasteful to throw away all those used furnace filters.

Upgrading to a washable or reusable furnace filter can reduce waste and help you save a little money. You still need to remove the filter on the same schedule, but you’ll rinse it clean with a hose outside and then slide it back in.

These filters last five years or longer before needing replacement. Add up those disposable filters you keep buying and you may find it’s more affordable to invest in a reusable filter.

Finding All the Heating System Filters

Aside from filters attached to the furnace itself, your overall home HVAC system likely has a few other filters.

You need to change the filter on your air return as well since it becomes clogged with dust over time. If you’re having trouble finding all of the various air filters in your system, recruit the help of the pros.

Schedule a visit from Comfort Systems to get personalized advice on replacing filters in your heating system. We can help you locate all of the filters in your home and recommend how often to replace them.