Why Do I Need a Furnace Filter
It can be difficult to stress the importance of something as small as a furnace filter, often we look at them as a small and insignificant factor to our furnace’s overall health. Surprisingly, the furnace filter does much more than pull airborne contaminants out of circulating air.
Importance of the Filter
Furnace filters serve as a powerful defense against dirt, dust, hair and other physical contaminants that would otherwise be sucked into the furnace. If you were to remove your filter and allow the furnace to run the contaminants, large and small, that would have otherwise been caught by the filter will end up in the blower fan. This can lead to clogs and costly repairs. Allowing all of this junk to become lodged inside the heating system can also make the entire system less efficient.
Your filter won't only stop your furnace from ingesting harmful contaminants it can also stop them from endlessly recirculating throughout your home. Major airborne allergens like dust become trapped in your filter, preventing it from being blown around your home.
Picking the Right Filter for You
There are a handful of different kinds of filters but dozens of different brands and it can be helpful to ask an HVAC technician about their recommendation for your unique needs and the type of furnace you have. Another thing to consider is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV rating, which will express the filter’s ability to trap airborne particles.
Different types of filters include: disposable fiberglass filters (most common), washable filters, pleated filters, activated carbon filters, and HEPA air filters. Each comes with it’s own list of pros and cons.
- Where having a high MERV rating is important to those suffering with allergies or with other respiratory concerns, it can also restrict airflow which makes some furnaces incompatible with this type of filter.
- Common fiberglass filters are inexpensive and can typically be bought in a year’s supply for very little money, however, they often have one of the lowest MERV ratings. Entirely suitable for the average home but for people suffering with allergies or other issues, they may want to lean towards something else.
- Washable filters are a wonderful option, often thicker than fiberglass filters, and environmentally friendly but even they have their downside. The cost for a washable filter is between $40-$120, and since they are not a “dry media filter” there is no regulated MERV rating meaning the consumer would have to take the company’s claims for facts.
- Pleated filters, sometimes referred to as pleated allergy filters, are a good choice for all homes. They catch more than a fiberglass filter without restricting as much air flow as a HEPA filter. These filters can be a good middle ground for most people with prices as low as $5-$20 per filter. Some brands of pleated filters also offer carbon pleated filters for a slightly higher price that can help remove odors from your home as well as some VOCs.
When choosing the right filter for your home it is important to check with your HVAC technician for furnace compatibility, as well as researching the MERV rating of the filter you plan to use, and remember to never operate your furnace without a filter.