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How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter In Your Heater?You should change the air filter in your heater once a month when the heat or AC is turned on. Then, every two to three months when it’s not running. Since the system is connected, the same filter works for heating and cooling. 

Changing the air filter only takes a minute or two. It’s easy, inexpensive, and can help your HVAC system run more smoothly and last longer. So why don’t more people do it? 

We’ve gone on plenty of heater repair calls in Columbia, Dover, PA, Manchester, and York, where a big problem was just the result of an air filter in the heater for way too long. In some cases, replacing it fixed everything. In others, it was too late.

Fortunately, you can avoid costly breakdowns, weak air circulation, and lousy air quality just by replacing this one small component a few times a year. And, if you’re unsure of how or why to do it, you’re in the right place.

Contact Us About Air Filters For Your Home or Business

We’ll cover: 

  • What Does An Air Filter Do? 

  • Buying A Furnace Filter

  • Where Is The Air Filter Located? 

  • Which Way Does The Air Filter Go In? 

If you have any more questions or want us to take care of this for you, call Air Comfort Technologies today for professional maintenance. It’s always an excellent idea to get a heater tune-up before you begin using the system in the winter. That service includes changing the air filter. 

What Does An Air Filter Do? 

The air filter in your furnace traps dust, dirt, and other tiny particles before all that debris get into your furnace. When that stuff builds up in your heater, it can cause all sorts of problems. Those issues range from rising energy bills and weak airflow to the system breaking down or needing replacement. 

Why Your Furnace Filter Works

So, how does one simple filter do so much? It’s a combination of being designed just right and put in the right place. 

Most of these filters are pleated cloth screens stretched over a cardboard frame. But, the cloth is just thick enough to catch tiny particles while still allowing air to pass through it. That’s an important balance. 

Since the filter sits between the ductwork and the unit itself (more on the exact location later), air needs to continue circulating through the screen. But, if you don’t change the filter, it gets clogged after a while. 

Once there’s too much stuff on the screen, not even air can pass through anymore. You’ll first start noticing the air circulation is weak, and as a result, some rooms don’t get warm enough. After that, your gas bill (or electric in the summer) starts going up because the system is working harder to do the job. 

And, if you leave the filter in for way too long, the system will eventually stop working altogether. The worst-case scenario is having to replace your heater entirely. 

This can happen when the lack of airflow causes the heat to stay trapped inside the system. Eventually, the inner components get damaged. And, if you end up with a cracked heat exchanger, there’s usually no way to make a safe repair. You need a new system. 

Fortunately, it takes a long time for things to get that bad. And, you’ll significantly reduce the chances of that happening by staying on top of the filter replacement and getting those annual tune-ups.

Schedule a Service And Air Filter Change

Buying A Furnace Filter

You can buy furnace filters at any local or big-box hardware store. The generic ones always work just fine and are usually under $10 each. In addition, they often come in packs so you can easily stock up. 

You have some upgrade options as well. Different models can reduce odors, for instance, or catch smaller particles such as bacteria or mold spores. We’ll cover these in a separate article. 

For now, however, all you need to do is find the right size filter. But, first, you can check the dimensions noted on the filter currently in your system. 

If you don’t have one in there or think it’s the wrong size, search your model number online. Or call your HVAC contractor to help you out. 

Where Is The Air Filter Located? 

Where Is Your Air Filter Located?Most furnaces have an air filter located on the side of the unit close to the floor. You’ll notice a slot or opening where you can slide out the old one and replace it. Other models have the space for it on top of the unit. 

Wherever it’s located, replacing the screen is really easy. You don’t need any tools, and it’s not fastened anywhere. Just wait for the heater to stop running, and then put in the new one. 

Which Way Does The Air Filter Go In? 

The air filter has a side with only the screen and reinforcements on the other side. There’s an arrow pointing from the screen side to the reinforcement. The filter follows the direction of the airflow. 

So, the screen side faces the ductwork from where the air is coming in. The reinforcement side faces the heater, making the arrow point into the unit. 

Contact Us About Air Filters For Your Home or Business

What Happens If You Put The Air Filter In Backward? 

Putting an air filter in backward restricts the airflow. As a result, you can end up with many of the same problems as a clogged screen: Weaker airflow and higher energy bills. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix. Just replace it with a new screen, and you’re all set. 

Heater Service And Tune-Ups In Camp Hill, PA 

If you have any questions about changing your air filter, or if you want to make sure that your furnace in South Central Pennsylvania is ready for the cold winter ahead, call us at Air Comfort Technologies! We offer fast, reliable, and professional heater service and tune-ups in Camp Hill, Manchester, Columbia, and across the region.


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