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Does Changing Your Furnace Filter Really Matter?

Your forced-air furnace has a filter that helps catch dust and debris. Ultimately, the filter prevents this material from being distributed through the ductwork. Most forced-air furnaces have disposable filters, although you can buy cleanable filters you can re-use. Furnace manufacturers recommend that the filter be cleaned or changed monthly for best performance. For homeowners in Boston, furnace maintenance is key to keeping your furnace working properly.

But what’s the harm in not changing your filter? Aside from the fact that the filter will become clogged with dust and debris, your furnace will also have to work harder to get air through the clogged filter. Your hard-working, high-efficiency furnace will become less efficient (which costs you more money) and over time, you can actually reduce the lifespan of important furnace components.

Furnace filters are sized to fit the furnace you use, so the first rule of thumb is to use the correct size filter for your furnace. You can usually purchase disposable furnace filters at your local home improvement store. Check your owner’s manual to determine the correct filter size for your unit, and buy enough filters each fall to get you through the heating season.

Changing the furnace filter (usually once per month) isn’t hard, but it is possible to install the filter backwards. Normally, filters are marked to indicate which side of the filter should face up/out, so be sure you know which direction you’re supposed to install the filter.

Don’t attempt to clean or re-use disposable filters. They aren’t meant to be cleaned, and there’s really no good way to get the accumulated dust and debris out of the filter. In addition, trying to dislodge the dust and debris mechanically can actually deposit the particles right back into the air. When you’re done with a filter, carefully place the used filter in a trash bag and send it on its way.

At the end of the heating season, place a new filter into your furnace. That way, when heating season starts up in the fall, your filter will be good to go. The same trick applies to your air conditioner. Change the filter at the end of the season so a dirty filter isn’t waiting for you the next time you want to use the unit.

If you just can’t remember to change your filter, write it on your calendar or send yourself a monthly email reminder. Google Calendar is a great (and free) way to remind yourself of this simple-yet-important task!

If you have any questions about your heating and cooling systems, or need help finding or changing your filter, contact Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We can schedule an inspection right away and help you get your heating (and cooling) filter maintenance routine set up.
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