All About Furnace Filters
Furnace filters screen out unwanted allergens and bacteria from your HVAC unit. They also increase your system’s productivity.
By choosing to replace your furnace filters often, you ensure that your home’s air stays clean and healthy. This also ensures that your HVAC is running efficiently, prolonging it’s lifespan and reducing your utility bills.
When Should you check your furnace filter?
You should check your furnace filter monthly, especially during late fall, winter, and early spring – when your system is being used most often.
How to clean/replace your furnace filter?
Turn off your HVAC system and find the service panel. Locate the furnace air filter near the intake-outtake blower and check it’s dust level. Is it difficult to see through the filter? If you have a reusable filter, rinse away the dust and grime in your sink, wait for the filter to dry, then put it back into place. If your system uses a disposable filter, write down what size the unit needs, throw away the dirty filter, buy a new one, and replace. When you’ve finished cleaning or replacing your filter, turn your HVAC system back on and you’re good to go.
Types of furnace filters
Filters can by disposable (with cardboard frames) or permanent (with fiberglass or metal framing).
Disposable are cheaper but require replacement more often. It’s suggested to keep a couple of filters on hand in the winter, in case you need a replacement ASAP or the store is out (which is going to be more likely when the weather is colder and more people are using their furnaces).
Permanent filters are more cost-effective but they require more work because they need to be hand cleaned.
- Spun Fiberglass Filters: The cheapest disposable filter available – unfortunately they don’t filter out really fine particles
- Pleated Disposable Filters: A little more costly, they provide 4-8x more filtration than spun fiberglass filters
- Washable Electrostatic Filters: Even more costly but reusable and have even higher filtration rates
- Electric Filters and Mass Media Filters: Provide the most filtration but often require modification to your ductwork for installation. Note: installing these types of filters is not a DIY project – they should be installed by a professional HVAC technician.
All filters come with with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Report Value) rating. This shows the product’s capability in trapping particles and allows you to compare the performance of different brands. The higher the MERV rating, the more productive the filtration.