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Which Are the Best Furnace Filters?

Expert Tips

Furnaces are the best way to maintain warmth in your home during the cold months. Furnace filters play an essential part in ensuring that your furnace remains in perfect condition and that the air in your house remains clean. Furnace filters help remove airborne particles like pollen, dust, and pet dander to protect the blower fan. That helps increase the efficiency of the furnace, extends its lifespan, and improves the air quality in your home.

The two main types of furnace filters are permanent and disposable. Permanent filters are usually stronger, mostly made from aluminum or stainless steel. They are made to last between five and 10 years, but some have a lifetime warranty. You can wash permanent furnace filters once a month as maintenance. While the initial cost is higher than that of disposable filters, it saves you the cost of repeat purchases.

Disposable filters are usually not as sturdy as permanent ones, and you have to change them after around three to 12 months, depending on the size and amount of dust or contaminants in your home. There are a number of different types of disposable and permanent furnace filters that you can find on the market.

Fiberglass Filters

These are the most common and least expensive types of filters. They are disposable and are made from spun fiberglass. They provide the least protection against dust and other contaminants but allow maximum airflow. They trap around 80% of contaminants measuring 50 microns and above and 25% of pollutants measuring 3-10 microns.

While they help keep dust and other particles from building up in the furnace’s internal parts like fan motors and heat exchangers, they do not do a lot in cleaning the air around your home. Because of that, they have a low MERV rating of 2-3. These are perfect for people who do not have allergies and whose homes do not have a lot of contaminants like dust and pet dander.

Pleated Filters

These are disposable filters made using polyester or cotton fabrics that are tightly woven into pleats. The pleats increase the surface area of the filter, which makes it possible for them to filter out more contaminants. They are more expensive than fiberglass but are more effective in cleaning the air around your home.

They trap particles as small as 0.3 microns like viruses and bacteria. The more the pleats and the tighter the fabrics are woven, the better the filters are at trapping particles. However, these filters have airflow resistance because of the tightly woven fabric, which requires your HVAC system to work harder to expel the air. Some HVAC systems cannot use a filter with a MERV rating above a certain number, so be sure to check your owner’s manual.

Pleated filters usually have a MERV rating of around 6-12, but it depends on how tightly woven the fabric and pleats are. The higher the rating, the more expensive the filter will be. While they might be expensive, you only have to change them after three months while you have to change other filters sooner. If you have severe allergies, these are the best filters.

Electrostatic Filters

These are filters made using self-charging fibers that attract particles from the air. You can either buy disposable or permanent electrostatic filters. The disposable ones are usually pleated and made from polyester or cotton.

Permanent electrostatic filters are made using polypropylene, a type of plastic. They have several layers that you need to take apart when cleaning them. When cleaning, you need to use water and soap, but ensure that the water is low-pressure to avoid damaging the filter. With proper maintenance, you can use these filters for around eight years.

They have a MERV rating of around 4-10, which means they trap more particles than the fiberglass filters. They are, however, more expensive and reduce the airflow through your furnace.

Carbon Filters

These use carbon or charcoal to clean the air. They trap gases and odors, filtering volatile organic compounds. The pollutants usually stick to the activated carbon molecules through absorption.

Every carbon molecule has several absorption sites, and as long as they are open, the filter will continue trapping pollutants. When they are full, you might notice strange odors from your furnace, which is the furnace releasing the gases back into the air.

It’s hard to see the dirt on them, making it hard to know when to change them. Therefore, you have to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. When buying carbon filters, go for the ones with activated carbon and more thickness.

They are perfect if you want to get rid of dangerous gases or unpleasant smells in your house.

HEPA Filters

These are considered the best on the market, with a MERV rating of about 17-20. They trap 99.97% of the contaminants in the air as small as 0.3 microns. However, their density and thickness make them have low airflow, which might make your HVACV system overwork.

Manufacturers make them using tightly woven, interlaced glass fibers. The filter eliminates the contaminants by direct impaction, diffusion, sieving, and interception as the air passes through.

These are the perfect filters if you have severe allergies and asthma. They are also excellent if you live in a dusty area or have a lot of pets. However, to maximize your HVAC system effectiveness, look for a HEPA filter with a MERV rating of around 11.

They are more expensive than other filters on the market, but they go for longer without requiring a change, unlike other disposable filters.

UV Filters

These filters use short-wave ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses in the air that could affect your health, like mold spores. However, many people do not use these filters because of their possibility to change oxygen into ozone. Ozone is a component that could be dangerous to your health. A small amount could cause chest pains and coughing while larger amounts could cause worse illnesses like asthma or worsen the symptoms of an existing respiratory disease. They are also ineffective against smoke particles, dust, gases, and odors.

Filters come in different sizes depending on your furnace and its specifications. You can determine the perfect size by reading the dimensions on the filter’s frame. The size of the filter determines how effective it will be and how often you need to change it if it’s a disposable filter.

You can also choose the size of your furnace filter depending on how many contaminants are in your house, like pet dander, outdoor environmental conditions, and the health conditions of your family.

If you are looking for professionals to install your HVAC system in Orange Park, FL and Clay County, Von’s Heating and Air is the company to call. We are a family-owned and operated company offering the best heating and air conditioning services in the area. We also help Orange Park residents with their indoor air quality, duct cleaning, air balancing, and ventilation issues. For more information or to receive a free quote, contact us today!

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