Taking steps to perform routine maintenance on your furnace will help to increase the usage life of the furnace along with ensuring that the unit is operating to its optimal performance. One of the key steps in routine furnace maintenance is to regularly check and change the air filters. Regularly changing the filter on a furnace will not only help keep the unit in good working order, but it will also help to maintain the air quality in the home. This is a task that can be performed quickly and it can also be performed by just about anyone.

1. Locate your filter
The location of the filter will vary depending on the furnace. On most furnaces, the filter is located on the unit itself and on some the air filter is located in the air intake. The air intake looks like a large vent and it will be located either on a wall or ceiling. If the filter is located in the intake, the cover might be hinged for easy access; however it may be necessary to remove the cover with a screwdriver. The first step is to determine which of these locations holds your furnace filter.

2. Check the filter monthly
Once you have determined where your furnace filter is located, you can perform the basic maintenance step of checking the quality of the filter on a monthly basis. Monthly checking and changing of the filter is the recommendation for most furnaces when they are in regular use. If the filter is covered and clogged with dust and grime, it is time to replace it with a new filter.

3. Make sure that you have the appropriate replacement filter
The type of filter needed will also vary depending on the furnace. To determine the right type of filter, you can either consult the owner’s manual for the furnace or look on the casing around the outside of the filter for details on the size and style of filter that is right for your furnace. Once you have determined the appropriate size for your filter you can consider buying either the basic filter that is really only designed to protect the HVAC equipment or you can look into purchasing filters that are designed to filter out impurities and improve air-quality.

4. Remove the old filter and replace it with the new filter
The filter on a furnace usually slides or lifts out of position with little effort. You may want to have a trash can handy so as not to bring the old filter through your house possibly leaving dust and dirt along the way. Some filters are designed to work both ways and have neither a specific front nor back side, in this case you can just place the new filter in the position from which you took the old one. Other filters are designed with a front and a back and need to be placed in position correctly for them to work. To determine the proper orientation of the filter, look on the outer casing for arrows or directions on how it should be seated.

5. Replace any hardware or covers that were removed in the process
Once the filter has been changed you can finish the process by replacing any clips that may have held the original filter in place and return any covers that may have been removed to access the filter.

Maintaining clean filters in your furnace will go a long way toward helping you get the most out of your HVAC system. Regularly changing the filter can help to increase the working life of the unit, save on energy costs and improve the air-quality in the home. With minimal effort and little out of pocket expense any homeowner can perform this task that will help to increase the efficiency and performance of their furnace.