Not all furnace filters are created equal. Learn about the differences among five filter types, and choose the best furnace filter for your Columbia-area home.
The most basic type of filter on the market, fiberglass filters check all of the essential boxes. These filters are flat, made with fiberglass, and have a metal structure as support. They don’t offer much in the way of cleaning the air in your home, but they do protect the HVAC system from large particles and some bacteria. Fiberglass filters generally have very low minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings between one and four.
Keep in mind that even basic filters like these won’t be effective if you don’t change them regularly. Most HVAC technicians recommend changing air filters every two to three months for most of the year and replacing them every four weeks during the winter months when you use the furnace constantly. By changing the air filter as often as possible, you’ll ensure that it helps the HVAC system run as smoothly as possible.
A step up from fiberglass, pleated filters are made with polyester. With a pleated format, these filters boast more surface area, which allows them to trap and capture more airborne contaminants. More than just a protective shield for the HVAC system, many pleated filters can also help clean pollen, dust, and mold from your home’s air supply, which contributes to good indoor air quality. Most pleated filters have an MERV rating between five and 13, with the higher-ranked models offering superior filtration capabilities. In general, these are a good, affordable option for most furnaces.
Like fiberglass filters, pleated filters must be replaced regularly. Mark your calendar to change the filter yourself every 60 to 90 days during the off-season and every 30 days during high season. Alternatively, schedule preventative maintenance for your HVAC system to check both filter replacement and system checkup off your list.
Air filters that boast high-efficiency ratings look and operate much like pleated filters. Their MERV ratings are even higher, and most have a rating between 14 and 16. These also tend to be expensive, with an average price tag of $100. Before splurging for one of these filters, make sure it will work with your furnace. Some high-efficiency filters are thicker or offer too much air resistance, so they’re not the right choice for every system.
Note that HEPA filters are often considered a top choice for air filtration, since they can capture nearly 100 percent of airborne particles. Due to their unique construction, however, HEPA filters won’t work with most furnace systems, which can’t provide the high air pressure that these filters require.
Most air filters are disposable, which means that while they might be effective, they’re not always environmentally friendly. When you’re looking for a greener option, consider a reusable air filter, which is made to be removed, washed, and reused regularly. These filters create little waste, but they do require maintenance about once per month.
Most reusable filters offer moderate efficiency, with MERV ratings between six and 10. Keep in mind that many reusable filters have higher price tags, but since they don’t require a replacement, the cost balances out over time.
Made with self-charging cotton or paper fibers, electrostatic filters are able to trap some of the smallest airborne particles. While most filters can trap medium and large pollutants, electrostatic filters can capture bacteria and odor particles. The ability to trap such small particles makes these filters a good choice for homeowners working hard to manage their indoor air quality.
Electrostatic filters come in both disposable and permanent varieties with mid-range price tags. These filters generally have MERV ratings between eight and 10. While they’re not the most efficient models on the market, they do offer advanced air cleaning properties. Since the permanent filters can be washed and dried, they’re also an environmentally friendly option.
Is it time you scheduled regular maintenance and a filter change for your furnace? Call Griffith Energy Services today to book an appointment to keep your furnace running smoothly: 888-474-3391.
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