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How to Choose the Correct Filter for Your Home Furnace

How to Choose the Correct Filter for Your Home Furnace

  • HVAC
  • |
  • November 12, 2018

Quality indoor air is important for the home. One way to ensure that you have appropriate air quality in the home is with the proper use of air filters. When you find the right one, you will be able to save money because of increased efficiency. Plus, it will offer enhanced indoor air quality.

Air filters were designed to offer protection for the HVAC unit. Over time, though, it became clear that the correct filter could offer an enhanced experience for homeowners. This is because particles tend to move through the air, and the filter makes it possible for inhabitants to breathe easier inside.

The filter that you choose to install inside the furnace directly impacts its performance. Below, you will learn about the various types of furnace filters as well as their benefits.

Before Buying a Filter: What You Need to Know

When you embark on your furnace buying journey, you will come across a lot of different information—a lot of which you are probably not familiar with at all. When it comes to air quality, the term that is used is microns. This is a particular type of measurement within the metric system. One micron is equivalent to 39 millionths of an inch or one-millionth of a meter in length. Here is a little more information about this measurement:

  • 2 microns = Bacteria
  • 8 microns = Red blood cells
  • 25 microns = White blood cells
  • 40 microns = Lower visibility limit of a human eye
  • 50 microns = Diameter of a piece of human hair

Another term that you will come across is MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Valve. This rating works off of a scale that determines the number of particles that can move through an air filter. The higher this number is, the more the filter is capable of catching. The most common particles that air filters are tested for include dust, dust mites, pet dander, dust, pollen, bacteria, and textile fibers.

The MERV rating ranges from 1 to 16, and though you want a higher rating, it doesn’t mean that it is always the most ideal option for your home. When a filter starts to catch dust, dander, and pollen, it starts to clog. When there is a reduction in airflow, the air quality tends to get worse. Therefore, you need to find the perfect balance. Otherwise, you will find yourself replacing filters regularly or putting your furnace at a risk of suffering premature damage.

Understanding the Difference Options for Furnace Filters

Polyester Filters – MERV Rating = 6

These filters are capable of trapping between 80 and 95 percent of particles that are at least 5 microns in size. These filters medium in size and are produced using quality materials. Due to their size and efficiency, they are often more expensive. If you are looking for something that can trap unwanted particles in the air, then this is a good filter to get the job done. The MERV rating is higher, so you will need to watch it for clogging.

Fiberglass Filters – MERV Rating = 2-3

Fiberglass filters, also known as synthetic filters, are disposable and inexpensive. They are capable of catching up to 80 percent of airborne particles that are 50+ microns in size. Any particles that are smaller than 10 microns cause the percentage of performance drop to 25 percent. The benefits of this type of filter are that it can catch some of the larger particles like dust, debris, and lint before they create issues for the furnace and its parts. While these filters are ideal for furnace protection, they are not best for enhancing indoor air quality.

Permanent Electrostatic Filters – MERV Rating = 8

These filters are made from self-charging fibers, which helps to attract airborne particles to the filter. With its high MERV rating, this filter is great at reducing the smaller particles in the air. There is a washable version available, which is beneficial since these filters do clog easily and quickly. However, make sure to allow the filter to completely dry before putting it back in the filter or you will have a major mold issue on your hands.

Disposable Electrostatic Filters – MERV Rating = 10

Similar to the permanent filter above, the disposable filter just can’t be washed and reused. This filter will need to be changed more frequently.

HEPA Filters – MERV Rating = 14-16

These high-efficiency filters are the best on the market when it comes to reducing the number of airborne particles. In fact, their efficiency is at nearly 99 percent. Though high, it is important that you understand that these filters could impede the airflow and result in additional energy usage for your furnace. If the filter is not changed frequently enough, you run the risk of unnecessary damage to your furnace.

It is possible to maintain your furnace at home, and one of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by using the right filter and keeping it changed frequently. If you would like to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us at Air Degree.

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