Although the winter season can be mild in some places, cold snaps can occur at any given time. If your furnace isn't ready for the cold weather, it could quit just when you need it the most. For instance, the blower motor or fan can give out if your furnace is too dirty or clogged with debris. You can take small preliminary steps to get your furnace ready for winter by beginning with the air filter.

How Important Is Your Furnace's Air Filter?

Changing your furnace's air filter is an essential part of maintaining the appliance. But, even if the air filter is clean, it may not do its job properly if it isn't the right fit for your furnace. Small particles of dust can blow past an ill-fitting filter and into the blower motor compartment during operation.

Air filters that are too thick can block air through your blower motor compartment and cause issues with your furnace as well. The proper airflow is essential to your furnace's overall performance. Air must flow over the motor to keep it cool during operation and must also flow freely through the blades of the fan. 

You can prevent airflow problems by checking your appliance's air filter regularly.

What Should You Do About the Air Filter?

The first thing to do is check the air filter's MERV,or minimum efficiency reporting value, rating. MERV ratings determine how efficiently air filters remove or block contaminants from the air. Although air filters with very high ratings remove the most contaminants from the air, the filters can actually cause problems for your furnace if they prevent air from flowing through it.

The best air filter should have a rating of 8 to 11. These levels allow the filter to catch and hold dust, dirt, and even mold spores without compromising the airflow through your blower motor compartment. If you have doubts about which MERV rating is right for your furnace or its air filter, check the appliance's owner's manual for assistance.

The filter should also fit the filter compartment precisely. There should be no gaps or empty spaces between the edges of the air filter and compartment. If you need to squish, manipulate, or cut the air filter to make it fit the compartment, it's probably not the right size for your furnace. You can refer to your furnace's owner's manual for help on this problem as well.

If you have any problems selecting or fitting your furnace's air filter, contact a furnace maintenance company like Controlled Comfort for assistance.