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Fall Furnace Maintenance: How to Change Your Furnace’s Air Filter

March 30, 2022

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In a few months, trees will start shedding their leaves.

The temperatures will start going down.

Yes, the fall season will arrive.

This means you still have some time to buckle up and get your furnace system ready to brave the cold. Now, if there is one part of the gas furnace that needs regular maintenance, it is the air filters. A furnace filter needs to be changed more often than you think. The benefits greatly outweigh the cost of changing the filter. Some of the top benefits include –

  • Increased efficiency
  • Improved furnace life
  • Lower power consumption
  • Prevents emergency repairs
  • Improved air quality

It doesn’t take much of your time to repair or replace your furnace’s air filter. Let’s take a look at the different steps involved in it.

How to change your furnace filter?

A dirty filter can cause all sorts of problems, including reduced airflow and higher energy bills. Luckily, changing a furnace filter is a quick and easy process. Here are four simple steps to change your furnace filter.

Step 1: Find and remove the furnace filter

Firstly, identify the location of the filter in your furnace. It will usually be located in or near the blower system. In other words, it will be around the front of your furnace near the bottom part of it. Ideally, you should be able to see the filter without opening the heating system.

Sometimes, you might need to open a panel that is marked as FILTER in the front of the blower. So, make sure to carry a screwdriver as this panel would be fixed with screws. Once you have free access to the air filter, you need to slide the filter from its slot to remove it from the system.

Step 2: Inspect the air filter condition

Once you have the filter in hand, inspect it for dust/dirt. You can hold the filter closer to the light. If the filter doesn’t allow much light to pass through it, then the filter is clogged with dirt. You can now clean the filter or replace it entirely.

Don’t hesitate to replace the filter, even if it’s only been a few months since the last replacement. If you are living in a city that has a lot of dust and smog, it could drastically reduce the life of your furnace’s air filter.

Remember – filters are meant to catch dirt and dust, and if they are getting clogged really badly, it means they are doing a great job at keeping your space dust-free. At the same time, by reusing the same filter multiple times, you risk losing the efficiency of these filters. So change your filters once in a while without fail.

Step 3: Clean the reusable filter or get a new furnace filter

Find out whether you have a reusable filter or a disposable filter. There is an easy way to identify it. The disposable ones will have a paper and a cardboard frame or a fiber mesh surface. The reusable ones will be made up of more sturdy material that has a metal frame and a special coating on the surface to make it washable.

If you have a disposable filter, before you purchase a new filter from hardware stores, know the size of your filter. This can be found on the filter itself. Next, look out for the MERV rating of the filter. This is basically the size of the particle that the filter can trap. The value of the MERV can be anywhere between 1 to 12.

And before you wash the reusable filter, check out the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. Normally you will be asked to rinse the filter in the water and then dry it out completely. In some rare cases, you might be asked to just vacuum the filter.

Step 4: Insert the cleaned or new filter

Putting the filter back is not a difficult back for someone who has removed it. You can find the arrow on the filter, which indicates the direction in which the air should flow through the furnace air filter. So this side is always away from the return air duct and towards the blower motor. So when you insert the filter back in place, make sure the arrow points towards the blower and away from the return air duct.

And those are the steps to change your furnace’s air filter. The steps are more or less the same in case you use an air handler or any other heat exchanger instead of a furnace.


That covers the most important part of your HVAC maintenance checklist. Changing the air filter wasn’t so hard, was it? If you are a homeowner or a maintenance technician in a residential or commercial building, once you have checked and replaced the filter, note down the date on your calendar each and every time. This will give you an idea of when to change or clean the filter again.


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