Any Hour Answer:
Like many people, you probably don’t think much about your furnace as long as it’s doing its job and keeping you warm in the winter. You’ve probably asked yourself questions such as: What does a furnace filter do? Which one should I buy? How do I install it correctly? When should I change it? Well, the first thing to know is that it’s really important to change your furnace filter on a regular basis to help keep it working properly as well as to avoid damage or breakdowns that can occur if it isn’t replaced often it enough.
What Does A Furnace Filter Do?
Many people believe that the main job of a furnace filter is to clean the air, but that is not true. Actually, the primary purpose of a furnace filter is to protect the blower fan from hair, dust and other stuff that the return air ducts pull in. However, through this process, it does improve the quality of the inside air by removing particulates from being recirculated. Not changing your furnace filter when it becomes clogged will result in poorer airflow inside your home which can cause serious damage to your furnace as well, which no one wants to have happen.
Which Type of Furnace Filter Should I buy? (Merv Ratings)
It’s important to understand MERV ratings when considering which is the best furnace filter to buy. Furnace filters are rated using the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) which was created by The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to allow consumers to compare air filters made by different companies. MERV ratings can range from a low of 1 to a high of 20. The higher the rating, the smaller the size of particles the filter can remove. However, higher rated filters allow less air to flow through and can force your furnace to work harder and possibly malfunction.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, air furnace filters with a MERV between 7 and 13 are adequate for most homes as they are pretty effective at controlling most airborne indoor particles. To be on the safe side, check your furnace manual and see if the manufacturer has a maximum MERV rating for your model of furnace to help you in figuring out which furnace filter would be best for you to use on your system. MERV ratings are printed on the side of each filter. The higher the MERV rating, the greater the efficiency in removing contaminants and pollutants. If anyone in your home has allergies, asthma or any other respiratory conditions, pets or if you live in a dusty environment you should aim for a higher MERV rating.
Some hardware stores (such as Home Depot or Lowes) use their own rating system. While these ratings are similar to the MERV scale, they do vary. It’s best to confirm what their rating converts to on the MERV scale to ensure you’re using a filter that is safe for your furnace.
The Different Types of Filters
The most common type of furnace filter is a disposable pleated kind. These come in a range of standard sizes and ratings. Pleated filters are constructed out of paper and polyester and do a good job at filtering most household particles and allergens. The price of these filters varies from a couple of dollars all the way up to the $30 – $40 range depending on the brand, size, and MERV rating of the filter.
Disposable fiberglass filters are the cheapest filter on the market, but really aren’t the best furnace filters. They have an almost spider web appearance and are often blue in color. They come in many standard sizes, but are generally more flimsy and have lower ratings than pleated filters.
Permanent reusable filters (also referred to as washable filters) are constructed with either a solid aluminum or plastic frame. These filters can save money because you don’t have to be buying filters to replace. However, they need to be cleaned out as often as you would replace a disposable one (checking it every month is recommended) so that you have the right amount of air-flow and are not putting undue stress on your furnace.