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Triple O Heating, Cooling, Electrical & Plumbing Blog

The Furnace Filter: What It Does and Why It Needs to Be Regularly Changed

One of the most common tips we give to our customers to improve the performance of their furnaces is to regularly change the filter. Looking to save money on heating costs? Change the filter. Want to ensure even heating throughout the house? Change the filter. Need to stop the furnace from overheating and tripping the circuit breaker? Change the filter. 

Although putting in a new filter isn’t the solution to all of these problems, it’s always the best place to start when troubleshooting. From experience, we know that many homeowners forget to regularly swap out the filters, leading to these problems. Today, we’d like to explore the furnace filter in more detail to help you understand why it’s so important to your home heating in Batavia, NY.

The Job of the Filter

The furnace filter, also called the air filter or blower filter, is a filter that is either found in a slot next to where the return air filter connects to the blower assembly on the furnace or directly behind the return air vent in the house. People sometimes assume that the filter’s job has something to do with improving indoor air quality by removing particles from circulating. Although the filter does have a small effect on air quality, that’s not its main job. (If you’re looking for real IAQ improvements, you’ll need special whole-house filters integrated into the ductworks.)

The actual job of the furnace filter is to protect the interior of the furnace and blower from dust and debris infiltration. It doesn’t take much dust inside the furnace to severely hamper it by clogging the burner jets and ruining the lubrication on motors. The filter prevents most of these particles from getting into the furnace cabinet. If you have an AC and furnace combo, the filter does the same job protecting the air conditioner.

Changing the Filter

The furnace filter isn’t self-cleaning. It will eventually collect enough dust, dirt, dander, and other contaminants that it will become clogged. At this point, the filter stops helping the furnace and becomes a problem. Some of the effects of a dirty furnace filter include:

  • A rise in heating costs
  • Uneven heating around the home
  • Reduced airflow from the vents
  • The furnace overheating and tripping the circuit breaker
  • Debris getting around the filter and into the furnace

How long does it take for the filter to become so clogged that it must be replaced? This depends on the type of filter:

  • Simple panel filters: Every month
  • Pleated filters: Once every one to three months
  • Special media filter: Once every four to six months

There are also permanent filters, which need to be removed and cleaned monthly. However, we don’t recommend permanent filters because they have a tendency to develop mold and they aren’t as strong as replaceable filters you can purchase at the store. 

If you don’t know where your filter is located or how to change it, it’s not difficult. Simply ask your Triple-O Mechanical technician to give you a demonstration the next time you schedule your regular maintenance appointment. 

Call Triple-O Mechanical: Your One-stop Shop for HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical. 

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