Differences in Furnace Air Filters


Shelves of furnace air filters

Many things in your home have air filters like your air conditioner unit, humidifier, air purifier and the like. But did you also know that your home’s furnace also has its own air filter? And like the others, the one for your furnace must be changed out regularly so that the unit is working right.

So how often does your furnace’s air filter need to be changed out for optimum performance for the unit?

Well, that depends on many factors.

Before, it used to be at least every month, but now that air filter technology has changed, you don’t really need to change it out that often. Before, standard filters were usually an inch thick and featured a lot of space in between the fibers, which really did nothing to stop small particles that can cause lung damage from entering in your furnace. However, they did a great job at blocking bigger particles that could do harm and damage the furnace.

But today, consumers have safer options. These older filters still come standard in many furnace models, but they can easily be switched out and upgraded to newer, safer ones, such as high-efficiency pleated options that feature built-in electrostatic charge. These are recommended by the American Lung Association’s Health House program, which can remove up to 90% of pet dander and mold spores. Thanks to the electrostatic charge (similar to that of the static cling in a dryer), on the filter, it’s like a magnet that attracts smaller particles that can cause health problems while still getting the larger particles that can damage the furnace. These sorts of filters should be changed every three months for maximum effectiveness, but if you see that they’re clogged sooner, you should definitely change them sooner.

Homes with lots of pets might want to change out their furnace filters more often given the fact that pet dander is more abundant. Or if someone smokes, you should change out the filter more often. But that’s not the only filter available on the market. To determine what’s the best filter for your furnace, you must take into account its ability to remove particles, resist airflow and its expected operating life.

There are four main types of furnace air filter:

  1. Flat-paneled fiberglass air filters that feature fiberglass material to help prevent the filter from collapsing. They’re inexpensive and protect the unit rather than cleaning the air. They have a medium efficiency rating for grabbing larger particles rather than filtering smaller ones.
  2. Pleated media filters collect more particles than the previously mentioned filter and can filter small to large particles.
  3. HEPA filters are great air quality control is at the top of your list. These filters can filter air at a very fine level and can catch about 99.97% of all particles. But switching to these better filters might require a professional to come into your home to retrofit your furnace.
  4. Washable air filters are cost-efficient and can be reused if you maintain them right. But they’re not very effective in capturing a lot of smaller particles and maintenance can be a pain.

If you’re unsure what filter is best for your home and particular furnace, you can call Frew Plumbing help you figure that out!