When it comes to replacing your furnace filter for the first time, you likely have a lot of questions. Apart from getting the model number, there are many other factors that you’ll need to consider in determining the right filter to buy for your home.
Understand MERV Ratings
MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value,” and it is a rating that is given to all furnace filters. This rating accurately reflects how effective a specific filter is at removing particles from the air. The higher the MERV rating, the more particles the filter will catch. The MERV rating scale runs from a low of 1 to a high of 20.
HEPA filters are most commonly used in surgical and laboratory settings. They filter out 99.97% of all particles, both big and small. This includes everything from dust and pollen to bacteria and viruses. HEPA filters have a MERV rating between 16 and 20. Because of their high filtering capability, they are the most expensive filter to purchase.
Pleated filters are typically composed of cotton or polyester that is held together in an accordion-like fashion. This provides more surface area to catch big and small particles in the air that flows through it. While pleated filters offer superior filtering capability, they do reduce the airflow for your furnace. These filters have a MERV rating between 5 and 8. While they cost much less than HEPA filters, they are more expensive than other options on the market.
Fiberglass filters, also referred to as synthetic filters, are made up of different layers of fiberglass that are supported by a metal frame. While these aren’t overly effective at filtering out smaller particles, they do filter out larger ones like dust. These filters are mainly used to help keep dirt and debris out of your furnace and to keep your indoor air quality at an adequate level. Fiberglass filters are the cheapest option that you can purchase, and they have a MERV rating of between 2 and 4.
Reusable filters, also known as washable filters, are another option. These are typically made of a hard plastic material that attracts unwanted airborne debris like dust and pollen. The main advantage of this type of filter is that you can easily wash it instead of throwing it out and having to replace it.
Reusable filters have a MERV rating between 1 and 4. They are more expensive than other types of filters on the market because they last for up to 10 years. The effectiveness of a reusable filter is going to depend on the care that you take when washing it. It needs to be washed regularly with soap and water. You must dry it completely before you put it back into the filter housing. If you put it back into the housing before the filter is completely dry, it can lead to unwanted mold and mildew in your air.
Respiratory Illnesses and Pets
Apart from taking into account factors like the price of a furnace filter, you’ll want to consider your living situation. If anyone in your household has a respiratory illness or allergies, you’ll want to opt for a filter with high filtering capabilities, such as pleated filters. The same holds true if you have multiple pets in your home. The cheaper washable and fiberglass filters will have difficulty removing pet dander from the air in your home.
Additional Filter Add-ons
While the above filter options are going to be the most common that you’ll find at your local hardware store, there are other furnace filters that you can have specially installed in your HVAC system by a professional. These filters will help to collect more airborne particles and are more suitable for homes where people suffer from respiratory or autoimmune conditions.
These additional filters include an electrostatic filter and an activated carbon filter. The electrostatic filter uses an electrostatic charge to attract unwanted airborne particles, similar to a magnet. You can purchase both disposable and washable filter types. Another filter add-on for your HVAC system is an activated carbon filter. This works to trap gases, odors, and other particles that most other filters aren’t able to remove from the air.
Reliable Heating Services
Spot On has reliable heating services for the entire Whittier, CA region. We also offer cooling, plumbing, air balancing, insulation, indoor air quality, and combustion safety testing services. Call us today to schedule an appointment.