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How to Clean a Furnace Filter

cleaning furnace filter

Cleaning Your Filter and Determining if You Need a Furnace Filter Replacement

Replacing or cleaning your furnace filter can help you breathe better and extend the life of your HVAC system. An old or dirty filter will eventually reduce the efficiency of the furnace, ultimately leading to the premature failure of the entire system. Whether you’re holding the keys to a shiny new home, or are settled in your cherished family home, home maintenance can seem like a big chore. Fortunately, having fresh air and preventing a premature furnace failure doesn’t have to be one.

Do you need to clean your filter or replace it?

The type of filter in your furnace will determine if the filter needs to be replaced or cleaned, as well as how often it will need to be done. While most filters still have disposable filters, permanent filters are becoming more popular for their positive environmental impact. A mechanical filter that is disposable will have a cardboard frame, while a permanent one will have a metal frame. We recommend that homeowners check their air filters at least once a month, and filters should be replaced just as often when the A/C is running, as well as every other month when the furnace is running. The frequency in which permanent filters need to be cleaned depends on the type of filter in use, as well as the environment. Different types of filters include electrostatic, electronic, and HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Absorber).

Electrostatic filters consist of polyester strands that are electrically charged by airflow. The static electricity captures dust and pollen, ensuring the air you breathe stays clean. These types of filters can often go three months between cleanings.

Electronic filters don’t have actual fibers to attract debris. Rather, they’re made with electrically charged wires that form a grid to attract debris. Because of their efficiency in collecting dust particles, these filters will need to be cleaned weekly.

A HEPA filter is the most efficient filter, and is also the most expensive. These filters are mostly used in sterile environments like hospitals, laboratories, and surgical facilities and are rarely found in residential homes.

How to replace a furnace filter

Replacing a furnace filter is as simple as five steps. The first thing you’ll want to do is turn your system off. Next, you will need to locate the service panel and open the furnace. Locate the filter, write down the unit number, and dispose of the filter. Replace with a matching filter and breathe in the clean air.

How to clean a furnace filter

Cleaning an air filter only has two additional steps from replacing one. Again, the first step is to turn off the HVAC system. Find the service panel, open the furnace, and then locate your filter and remove it from the furnace. From here, you’ll want to place it dirty side up and gently vacuum the large debris. Next, you can clean the filter – in a utility sink or with a hose – by running water over it and gently wiping the service. It seems counterintuitive, but make sure you don’t use any soap in your furnace filter. Finally, you’ll need to completely dry the filter before returning it and turning your system back on. It’s also important to remember all permanent filters have a set lifespan. Check your manual for replacement recommendations.

Should you use a disposable filter or a permanent filter?

Filter efficiency is rated by the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. A higher MERV rating refers to a filter’s ability to clean more particles from the air while maintaining system airflow. Disposable air filters typically have a higher MERV rating but are not as environmentally friendly. Additionally, disposable air filters offer a simpler maintenance routine, while properly maintained permanent filters can be more cost-effective long-term, as they often only need to be replaced every five years.

While replacing or cleaning your furnace filter may sound simple, other maintenance that your HVAC system requires will not always be as such. That’s why you should schedule a yearly or bi-yearly maintenance appointment with your local HVAC company. Meyer Heating & Air offers heating repair in St. Louis, and we’re happy to complete any HVAC service no matter how big or small – and we promise it won’t break the bank. Breathe freely and sleep safely in your home knowing that Meyer Heating & Air has your back. Schedule your service appointment online today.