Indoor air quality is essential to the home. One way you can maintain optimal air quality is through the use of filters. Finding the right one will not only save you money in efficiency but will also provide you with better air quality. Air filters were designed to protect the unit. Over time, it became apparent that the right filter could provide homeowners with an improved experience. Particles tend to cycle through the air. The filter can make it possible to breathe easy inside the home. What you choose to install inside your furnace impacts performance. We’ve identified the different kinds of furnace filters you will come across and their various benefits.

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Filter

When shopping for a new air filter, there is different information you will come across. When discussing air quality, you’ll see a lot about microns. Micron is a measurement in the metric system. One micron is equal to one-millionth of a meter in length or about 39 millionths of an inch. Here is some information to put these measurements into perspective:

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

Additional information will include MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s a scale that determines how many particles can pass through a filter. The higher the number, the more the filter will catch. The most common particles these filters are tested for are mold spores, dust, pet dander, bacteria, dust mites, pollen, and textile fibers. The scale is from 1-16, and even though you’ll initially want to go for a higher rating, it’s not always the best option. When your air filter catches the dust, pollen, and pet dander it begins to clog. A reduction in airflow can make the air quality worse. So, you want to find the right balance. Otherwise, you will be replacing air filters on a regular basis or risk damaging your furnace.

Different Furnace Filter Options

Polyester Filters

Capable of trapping 80% to 95% of particles that are 5 microns or larger, the polyester filters are produced using top of the line materials. They are often medium in size. Because of their efficiency and size, they can be a bit pricier. If you want something that is going to be great at trapping unwanted airborne particles this is one of the top contenders. The MERV rating is a little higher which means you will need to keep your eye on it and check for clogging.

MERV Rating: 6

Fiberglass Filter

Sometimes referred to as synthetic filters, fiberglass filters are very inexpensive and disposable. They can catch up to 80% of the particles that are 50 microns and larger. Anything less than 10 microns the percentage dips down to 25%. The benefit of the fiberglass is the ability to capture larger particles like lint, debris, and dust before they become an issue for your furnace and its corresponding parts. While they are best at protecting your furnace, they aren’t the best at improving air quality.

MERV Rating: 2-3

Permanent Electrostatic Filters

Made from self-charging fibers, the electrostatic filter attracts particles out of your air. They are excellent at reducing the smaller pollutants and has a very high MERV rating. There are a couple of options available. You can purchase a washable version which is handy because they will clog quickly. Just be careful to let it dry completely or run the risk of mold.

MERV Rating: 8

Disposable Electrostatic Filter

Very similar to the permanent option, the disposable is made from a material that attracts particles. However, they do not have the capacity to be washed and reused. You will need to change these a little more frequently.

MERV Rating: 10

HEPA Filters

High-efficiency filters that are probably the best on the market for reducing the number of contaminants. The efficiency is at almost 99%. While high, before you purchase you should be aware that these filters can drastically reduce the airflow and cost more in energy usage. You’ll also run the risk of damaging your system if you don’t change it enough.

MERV Rating: 14-16

Middle Tennessee HVAC

There are a number of ways you can maintain your furnace at home. Changing the filters is one of the best methods for ensuring your system has a long and healthy life. During this colder weather when the air can become a little drier, keep your furnace filter clean for optimum performance. For more questions about how to keep your furnace healthy, visit our website.

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