May 20, 2023

Can You Put a Furnace Filter in the Wrong Way Without Causing Damage?

can you put a furnace filter in the wrong way

Is something off with the quality of your indoor air? Contact our locally-owned HVAC company for assistance!

The primary role of an HVAC system is to produce a controlled climate with desirable temperatures. However, they can also improve air quality by reducing pollutants. Air filters are on the frontlines, protecting your home and unit from these airborne particles, but can you put a furnace filter in the wrong way, defying its purpose?

Lion Air Conditioning Cooling and Heating, LLC, Coral Sorings’ professional furnace repair team in Florida, offers over ten years of experience and 100% customer satisfaction. Whether you have questions about preparing your unit for a season of use or need us to give you a hand when it’s on the fritz, reach out to our local experts. 

Can You Put a Furnace Filter in the Wrong Way?

Like air conditioner filters, furnace filters have arrows on the rims indicating the direction to install the new mesh, meaning there’s a correct and incorrect way to fit them. While residents may believe both filter sides are the same, the material’s design has fibers facing one direction, ready to capture allergens. The other side is more air resistant, lowering airflow. 

That means the fibrous side, which should face your vents, keeps particles from rereleasing into your air after the blower motor sucks them into the unit from the return duct when heating air. Since only one side of the filter is efficient, the denser outer side makes it difficult for polluted air to enter the furnace through the supply duct, keeping unwanted debris from settling on internal components. 

What Happens in Your Furnace with an Incorrect Installation?

Unfortunately, dust and dander enter your system more effortlessly if you place the filter in the wrong direction since the more porous side faces outward. Dust then settles over internal parts like the fan blades, burners, and evaporator coils, which house refrigerant for heat transfer. When this occurs, the components don’t function up to par, producing little to no heat and lowering energy efficiency.

With the denser side facing inward, the unit works harder to push the air through the mesh, placing more pressure on the system. Parts like the blower motor and air handlers compensate for the lessened airflow by working overtime, sometimes causing long cycling (the unit running extensively). Overworking the system also causes part failure and overheating, leading to short cycling and larger utility bills. 

What Happens in Your Home with an Incorrect Filter Placement?

Now that you understand what happens within your system with the improper installation of your filter, what happens within your home? You’re probably questioning, “Can you put a furnace filter in the wrong way?” because you’re noticing unusual activity in the heated household areas. The top concern residents note from this issue is compromised indoor air quality. 

The porous filter side traps larger particles on the surface, allowing smaller particles to travel further into the filter, sticking to the less porous inner sections. This gradual filtration creates a balanced dust distribution that prevents all contaminants from building up on the surface and blocking airflow like it would if you turned the filter around. 

If you place the filter incorrectly, it ejects large amounts of dust, dander, and pollen into your home, and you’ll notice you’re dusting more and respiratory illnesses like asthma ensue. You’ll also experience the following signs if your filter isn’t doing its job: 

  • Fungal growth: When given the right environment, mold occurs within a few hours on your unit filter. That includes duct darkness, a high food source of dust, and moisture from constant condensation and evaporation as the air heats and cools in the system. Like airborne allergens, mold affects the respiratory system. 
  • Incorrect temperatures: A backward filter restricts warm air, keeping it from releasing into your home. The lower airflow makes your unit take up to three times longer for your indoor climate to mirror your thermostat settings, resulting in a cold, uncomfortable indoor area. Overheating from working too hard may also prevent it from ever achieving the right temperature.

For a Fierce Solution, Trust Lion Air!

As a leader in the HVAC field with five-star reviews in Coral Springs, FL, and the surrounding areas, we know all the factors that make your furnace tick. Contact Lion Air Conditioning Cooling and Heating, LLC, whether you need answers to frequently asked questions, like “Can you put a furnace filter in the wrong way?” or need furnace maintenance, repairs, or replacements. Call 754-317-1404 for a free quote today!