How to Choose the Best Furnace Filters

Furnace Filters

A variety of quality furnace filters are on the market for homeowners of diverse needs and specifications. Furnace filters are either disposable, requiring monthly to bi-monthly changing, or permanent, which can be cleaned as needed.

However, most customers will find that the cheaper, disposable furnace filters cost more long-term since they require constant change. An average-quality, the permanent filter can be purchased for an approximately equivalent cost to a year’s supply.

The individual needs of the consumer are the main factor to consider when selecting a furnace filter. Customers with heating-season allergies will need to find a filter designed specifically to eliminate airborne allergens such as pet dander and dust.

Some of the highest-rated allergen filters are the Filtrate Advanced Allergen Filter and the Honeywell Ultra Efficiency Air Cleaner.

Furnace Filter Buying Guide

Before you choose the type of furnace filter to fit your needs, make sure you also have the right size of filter. The size of the filter you need can be determined by looking at the size of the filter already inside the furnace.

This can give you the dimensions you will need. There are many standard sizes, but some furnaces will take a custom size. The best choice for these odd sizes is a washable filter you can cut to size.

There are four main types of furnace filters available on the market. They are pleated, HEPA, electrostatic, and activated carbon. All of these types have specific features that help to trap dust and dirt from entering the air stream.

Pleated filter

A pleated filter is one that provides additional surface area for the dust and dirt to collect on the filter. The filter is contained inside a cardboard frame for durability. Pleated filters can be large, so this may not be the best choice for smaller furnace units. Pleated filters are also available with an electrostatic charge.

Electrostatic filter

An electrostatic filter is a type of filter that carries an electronic charge. This helps to attract particles to the filter. The electrostatic filter is one that made from materials that can be washed, so the filter can be used permanently with regular cleanings.

HEPA filter

To help prevent allergies and other irritants from getting into the air, choose a HEPA filter. A HEPA filter is often used to purify the air to reduce allergens in the home. These filters are more common in vacuum cleaners and stand-along purifiers because some HEPA filters can hinder the amount of airflow through the system. These filters, however, are still available for furnace systems.

Activated carbon filters

The last type of furnace filter is the type that uses activated carbon. The activated carbon works to absorb allergens like a HEPA filter, but activated carbon can also provide absorption of odors and hazardous chemicals in the air.

Activated carbon filters are often used in factories and labs where many hazardous fumes may be present.

Remember that any furnace filter should be replaced or cleaned once a month to maintain a quality airflow.

Quality matters

Quality is a major factor in the selection and is easily evaluated using the industry rating standard known as MERV: Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This rating is determined based on factors determined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

A MERV rating ranges from 1-12, with good filters averaging at 8 or above. Filters with a higher MERV rating tend to cost more, but a customer requiring a higher level of air filtration due to allergies or asthma may find that the costlier filter is worth the price.

One of the most popular furnace filter brands on the market is the Filtrete. In addition to high MERV ratings on all their products, Filtrete created its own system for rating filter effectiveness known as Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR).

This measure’s effectiveness in filtering the tiniest particles, sized between 0.3 and 1.0 microns. In theory, this quantifies effectiveness for the sake of comparison, with an MPR of 1000 generally denoting double the effectiveness of a filter rated 500. The highest-quality Filtrate filter is given an MPR of 1500, whereas typical competing filters are rated between 55 and 295.

Filtrete produces a number of high-performance models, including the Dust & Pollen Filter, Micro Allergen Filter, Ultra Allergen Filter, and Advanced Allergen Filter. The Micro Allergen Filter is specifically designed to remove pet dander, which tends to stay in the air much longer than regular dust particles, and is tougher to filter because of its smaller particle size.

The Advanced Filter has the highest MERV rating at 12, and consistently receives positive consumer reviews. Filtrete claims the filter is 93% effective in removing even the smallest air impurities, including pet dander, smoke, and even illness-causing bacteria.

Disposable furnace filters

The economy today is such that people are always looking for ways to cut back on their monthly expenses. Using the right kind of furnace filters is one of the ways you can save money on your household expenses.

Many homeowners use disposable furnace filters because they are cheap to buy initially but they will cost you more in the long run. Your furnace filter must be clean in order to allow the proper amount of air to flow through your furnace.

Since disposable filters clog fairly quickly, if you do not change them often, you may not be allowing your furnace to work properly. It is very important to make sure that you change your disposable filter once a month and sometimes even more often. Although the initial price to purchase disposable filters is low, having to change them so often amounts to a substantial amount of money over time.

Reusable or Washable filters

Reusable or Washable filters are a superior option. They are generally better quality and so they allow your furnace to work more efficiently. They cost a little more at the outset but since you can wash them and reuse them, they will not cost you as much in the long run.

There are many different brands to choose from when shopping for reusable furnace filters. Most furnace companies will tell you that it is best to use their brand of the filter if you own their furnace but this is not true.

You can use other brands in your furnace as long as they fit properly. In fact, some other types may even be better quality and allow your furnace to work better. Honeywell furnace filters are a good example.

Since furnace filters do not just filter the air going into your furnace, but also filter the air that you breathe in your home, it is important that you are diligent about keeping them clean. If you want to make sure you are purchasing quality filters, take into account the rating on your filter.

Filters receive a rating according to how small the particles are that they are able to trap. You should look for filters with the highest rating possible which means they will be able to filter out the smallest of particles.

The rating you need to look for is called the MERV rating. If you are concerned about the environment then keep in mind that reusable furnace filters do not fill up landfills as disposable ones do. Since you do not throughout reusable filters very often, you are decreasing waste.

Time to Replace The Furnace Filter

Furnace Filter Replacement

No matter which size BTU a commercial or central home heating system happens to be, furnace filters are required to be replaced. Replacing furnace filters is crucial to efficient operation.

The cleaner the air circulated through the furnace, the less mechanical problems or, in the worst-case scenario, furnace failure, will occur. The cost of furnace filters being relatively inexpensive, it’s prudent to purchase enough furnace filters for a full winter season.

How Often Should Furnace Filters Be Replaced?

Professional Heating and cooling experts recommend replacing furnace filters every 6 weeks, depending on age and furnace use and type of furnace filters recommended by the furnace manufacturer. Check the furnace operations and maintenance manual, or “Users Manual”, supplied by the manufacturer and provided by the installer.

These manuals serve as a reference point for the correct type of furnace filter and for the types of parts that may need replacement.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is the specific size of the furnace filter. During the time of purchase, it will be necessary to choose the correct size. Look for a number that is indicated by width, length, and thickness.

As an example, one of the most common furnace filter sizes is 16 x 25 x 1, although there may be others that are smaller or larger than this.

The types of furnace filters available range from the least expensive fiberglass filters to the most expensive which are a combination of electrical air filtration and an air cleaner system.

Types of Furnace Filters

The materials from which furnace filters are made are also fairly common:
1. Fiberglass
2. Electro-static synthetic fibers
3. Polypropylene

Furnace Filters for Specific Needs

If allergies are a serious problem, furnace filters with the designation “HEPA”, are most effective in reducing dust and pollen in indoor air.

There are other types of furnace filters that are designed with a 90% arrestance of irritating substances in airflow. Take note of the sizes of micron particles a furnace filter is designed to capture.

Installing a Furnace Filter

Installing a furnace filter is relatively simple. Do not attempt to replace or install a furnace filter without first turning the furnace blower to the “OFF” position. Check your Users Manual to locate the blower section of your furnace.

In most cases, a slot is located between the blower and filter housing. Simply, slide the furnace filter in with the airflow arrow pointed in the designated direction on the furnace filter and replacement is complete.

Breathing Better With Honeywell Furnace Filters

If your home is your castle then the air inside your home should be just as fresh and clean as that of any other richly enjoyed abode. Using the right furnace filter is important in keeping the air you breathe at its cleanest level possible.

When you think of replacement furnace filters there is one name that comes to mind first, that being Honeywell. What makes their furnace filters above the rest?

Honeywell has always acknowledged the importance of keeping your home’s air fresh and clean. They have been at the forefront of researching new and different ways to filter the air that brings you life.

Quality construction is where they begin, a filter cannot do its job if it is not structurally built to handle the job. While others are less worried about the construction details, Honeywell questions everything they do to be sure that all filters will perform to satisfaction. There is no glue used in the making of these filters, keeping one less chemical out of the air, protecting your family to a higher degree.

The furnace filters are pleated, thus allowing for twice the filtration as their competitors. They clean the dust and allergens from the air, preventing debris from being recycled back into your home, the filters are considered hypoallergenic because of this. Pushing the filters above the competition Honeywell furnace filters also reduce or completely eliminate mold and mildew growth, as well as bacteria in the air.

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