In the world of home heating and cooling, one often-overlooked yet critical component is the furnace filter. Choosing the right furnace filter is essential to maintain indoor air quality and keep your HVAC system running efficiently.
You go to a big box store and face the furnace filter aisle. There’s a wide variety of styles. Some air filters are made from fiberglass, while others consist of polyester or cotton. Then there are the reusable furnace filters. Confused? How do you know which furnace filter is right?
With so many options available, it can be challenging to determine the best furnace filters for your home. In this blog post, we’ll explore various types of furnace filters, when to replace air filters, and tips on extending the filter’s lifespan.
Types of Furnace Filters
Furnace filters come in several different types, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Choosing a furnace filter should be based on your specific needs, budget, and the quality of air in your home.
- Fiberglass Furnace Filters: These are the most common and affordable type of furnace filters. They are typically one-inch thick and designed to protect your HVAC system from larger particles. While they are excellent for blocking out dust and debris, this type of furnace filter may not be as effective in capturing smaller particles like allergens and microorganisms.
- Pleated Furnace Filters: Pleated furnace filters have a larger surface area and, as a result, capture more particles, including small particles. They are an excellent furnace filter choice for homes with pets or allergies as they can effectively trap dust, pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold spores.
- Washable Air Filters: Unlike disposable furnace filters, these air filters are designed to be reusable and cost-effective in the long run. However, they require regular cleaning and may not be as effective at trapping smaller particles as disposable filters.
- Electrostatic Furnace Filters: An electrostatic filter uses static electricity to attract and trap particles. They are often washable and reusable, making them a good choice for those looking to save money on filter replacements. An electrostatic filter can capture smaller particles effectively.
The technicians at Star Heating & Cooling recommend pleated furnace filters, because they do the best overall job of trapping dust and particles. When the filter media is folded into pleats, there’s more surface area to capture dust, as opposed to a flat surface filter, which could clog in a matter of days, depending on how much dust and dirt lurks in your home.
Something else to consider is the furnace filter’s backing. Some filters have wire mesh on the back. This helps the filter to maintain its shape and prevent it from collapsing when air passes through it.
Understanding MERV Ratings
MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value according to the EPA, is a rating system used to measure a filter’s efficiency in trapping dust particles. The higher the MERV rating, the better a filter is at capturing smaller particles. The range starts at 1 and goes up to 20, with 20 being the highest level of filtration.
- MERV 1-4: These filters are basic and suitable for larger particles but do not provide comprehensive air quality improvement.
- MERV 5-8: Filters within this range are more effective at capturing pet dander, pollen, and mold spores.
- MERV 9-12: These filters offer good filtration for smaller particles, making them an excellent choice for allergy sufferers.
- MERV 13-16: Filters in this range provide outstanding filtration and are often used in commercial and medical settings. They can capture particles as small as bacteria and some viruses.
- MERV 17-20: These filters are the best of the best, providing exceptional filtration for even the tiniest particles, including smoke and very fine dust.
When choosing a filter, it’s important to consider your specific needs. If you have pets, allergies, or respiratory issues, a filter with a MERV rating of 9 to 12 would likely be beneficial. However, it’s essential to ensure that your HVAC system can handle the increased resistance that comes with higher MERV-rated filters, as they can reduce airflow. Typically, MERV 12 or 13 is about the highest rated air filter you should use in a residential HVAC system.
When to Replace Furnace Filters
Regularly changing your furnace filter is crucial for maintaining both your indoor air quality and the efficiency of your HVAC system. The frequency at which you should replace your filter depends on several factors, including the type of filter, the MERV rating, and the level of airborne particles in your home. As a general guideline, furnace filters should be replaced every one to three months.
To help you remember, you could purchase 12 disposable filters and label each one with a month of the year. That way, when you forget or lose track of when you last changed your furnace filter, just look at the next filter in the box. If the current month is March, and the label on the new furnace filter says February, you know you’re behind in replacing it.
Tips for Extending Furnace Filter Life
- Regular Maintenance: Schedule routine HVAC maintenance to keep your system clean and running efficiently. This will reduce the strain on your filter.
- Seal Air Leaks: Properly insulate and seal any gaps or leaks in your home to prevent the infiltration of outdoor pollutants.
- Use an Air Purifier: Consider adding an air purifier to your home to reduce the load on your furnace filter and improve indoor air quality.
- Keep Your Home Clean: Regularly dust and vacuum your home to reduce the amount of debris that can make its way into your HVAC system.
Select the Best Furnace Filters for Your Home
Choosing the best furnace filters for your home is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your indoor air quality and the efficiency of your HVAC system. Different filter types and MERV ratings cater to various needs and situations, so it’s essential to select the right one for your home.
For expert advice and professional HVAC services, don’t hesitate to reach out to Star Heating & Cooling. Our team has the knowledge and experience to help you when choosing a furnace filter for your home’s heating and cooling system.