With proper maintenance, the average furnace can last 15 years or longer. One way to make sure your system reaches its life span and operates efficiently is to perform an easy, do-it-yourself maintenance task—changing or cleaning your furnace’s air filter as often as the manufacturer recommends. In general, you should check the filter’s condition about once a month and change/clean it when necessary.
If you’re not sure whether you have a furnace or not, go here to read about the difference between a forced air furnace, which generates heated air, and a boiler, which heats your home with hot water or steam.
4 Quick Points about Filters
- Filters are located either inside the furnace or inside the return air vent.
- Some filter models are designed to be discarded and replaced with a new one.
- If your filter has a plastic frame, it can be cleaned and reused.
- Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and be sure to shut the furnace off before handling the filter.
Here’s what can happen if you ignore your air filter:
- With a clogged air filter, there is less room for air to flow through your system and through your home. Your furnace will need to work harder to circulate air, which will result in an increase in your heating bills. Your home will become less comfortable and the indoor air quality will degrade.
- An extremely dirty air filter can make your furnace work so hard that it can cause premature wear and tear on parts. This can lead to a total breakdown and an expensive repair.
- A dirty air filter can cause cooling problems too. Lack of airflow in your central A/C can result in the cooling coil freezing inside your air conditioner because it’s working so hard just to cool the air inside your home. A frozen coil can be a very costly repair.
If you’re not sure how to change the filter yourself but would like to, please contact your heating oil company for advice.