Filtrete 14 x 20 x 1 Furnace Air Filter, 2-Pack scored high marks in all categories and is our overall top pick. Filtrete furnace filters help protect the air in your home by removing dust mite debris, lint, pollen, mold spores, pet dander and more. Using this quality filter will also protect your furnace from dust build up that can affect its performance and efficiency. Each filter can last up to 3 months but you should change them more often if you live in a dusty environment.
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There are many different types of furnace filters on the market to choose from. We have listed the different types and their characteristics below so you can understand the differences while deciding which one is the best type for your needs.
Electrostatic – Electrostatic furnace filters are not typically designed to be disposable. They are often long lasting or even semi-permanent, washable filters that have an electronic charge. The charges these filters have attract the particles a lot like a magnet attracts steel. Electrostatic furnace filters are great for removing allergens from the air that are often responsible for sneezing, stuffiness, and other allergy-related symptoms. Electrostatic furnace filters come in disposable and permanent varieties. The permanent electrostatic filters can last as long as 8 years with proper care.
HEPA – HEPA filters are considered the best filters in vacuums and air purifiers but when it comes to furnaces they can create too much air flow resistance that can cause damage to your system. If you want to use a HEPA filter, make sure to do extra research to ensure that airflow is not restricted. Overall it is not recommended to use HEPA filters in the furnace or AC unit.
Pleated – The pleats that are in certain furnace filters increase the surface area of the filter which increases its effectiveness. It allows more particles to be caught. Most allergy filters will have this pleated design. Pleated filters are strong and will cost a little more than others but the cost is worth it compared to the performance you get from them. There are high efficiency pleated filters that are made from cotton that is attached to rigid metal grids that will prevent leaks. It is often the type of furnace filter used in hospitals due to its superior allergen removal capability. These special filters are much more expensive than others and may require special housing due to its thickness.
Activated Carbon – Activated carbon in furnace filters is great for absorbing odors, chemicals, and fumes that may be present in the home or business as it passes through your system. They are also efficient at filtering out allergens in the air.
Disposable Fiberglass – This is the most basic furnace filter on the market and typically costs less than a couple of dollars per filter. They are made from fiberglass that has been spun and have wide spaces and coarse composition. They are good for keeping large particles of dust and lint from getting inside the furnace but have no effect on the cleanliness of your air. They are also unable to capture pollen or pet dander so they will not help to reduce allergy symptoms. This type of filter is often found in apartment furnaces.
Other Factors to Consider
There are several things that you will want to educate yourself on when it comes to furnace filters. You do not have to be an expert but knowing these terms and information will help you understand what you are reading and looking at once you start browsing the different selections on the market.
What are your needs? – One of the most important uses a furnace filter takes care of is keeping the furnace free from dust and other airborne particles. Without a filter or using a dirty filter can cause problems and the need for repairs which can be quite costly. In addition to keeping your furnace in good working order, furnace filters improve air quality when they are high quality filters. If you or your family members suffer from allergies the right furnace filter can make a big difference in how everyone feels.
Odors – When dirt and debris builds up in the furnace you may notice a burning smell that will permeate throughout the entire home. If you notice this odor you should check your furnace filter or choose one that will remove these odors or prevent them altogether.
Size – Furnace filters come in a variety of sizes. These sizes correspond with the size of the furnace filter space in the furnace. Most filter brands carry a variety of sizes but you do need to know the right size for your furnace before you purchase one. When looking for the filter size for your particular furnace look on the existing filter itself; it should be printed right on the side. If there is no existing filter measure the area to get the right size filter or check the furnace’s handbook.
Disposable or reusable – There are disposable and reusable furnace filters on the market. People like disposable filters because they are typically less expensive and very convenient. Reusable filters are designed to be washed and are made to last years. A reusable furnace filter needs to be washed every 30 days. If you do not clean your reusable filter properly you will get particles and pollutants in your home. A clean, proper filter will remove these particles from the air and improve the air quality throughout your home.
MERV Rating – The MERV rating on a furnace filter pertains to the degree of pollutants the filter is capable of removing. Ratings range from 1 to 16. The higher the rating the more pollutants and the tinier the particles can be and still be removed. The most common rating is between 5-12 MERV and is what is found in most homes. Filters with these MERV ratings will protect the furnace from buildup as well as allowing plenty of airflow. The filters that have a MERV rating between 12-16 remove the most pollutants from the air. They are excellent for those with allergies, asthma, and other breathing problems. These filters get clogged much easier because they are trapping so many pollutants and particles and may need to be changed or cleaned more often.
Customer Comments – If you are unsure which brands are the best, take a look at the star rating and customer comments that are associated with the furnace filter you are considering. You can learn additional information about the filters such as how sturdy they are, how long they are usually lasting (this will vary depending on the dustiness of the home, etc.) and other pieces of information that will give you the inside scoop on any brands you are interested in. 3M is one of the most well-known brands in the filter industry and can be relied on to have good products but Nordic, Filtrete, and others are excellent as well.
When to replace the furnace filter
The first sign that a filter is not working properly is reduced heat or air depending on the time of year. If you notice that your furnace is coming on but is not blowing hot air, check the filter to see if needs to be cleaned or changed. The lifespan each filter has depends on what it is made of and the brand of the filter.
Disposable filters usually last 30-90 days but a well-made reusable filter can last as long as 8 years or more with proper, regular cleaning. Always have at least one backup filter on hand at all times. If one filter gets dirty, you will have a replacement that will allow you time to purchase more. You do not want to run a furnace without a filter due to the problems dust and dirt particles can cause. Changing the filters may feel like a bother but it is much cheaper than calling the furnace repair company when it breaks down.
Air quality is very important to your health so it is beneficial for you to make sure you have the best air quality possible. The right furnace filter can help you achieve this goal by removing dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens from the air on a regular basis.
With all of the different furnace filters on the market to choose from it can quickly get overwhelming so we provided this information for you to help you find exactly what you need for your family’s health and safety.
The right furnace filter can keep your home odor-free, pollutant-free, and much safer. If your family suffers from allergies you will notice that the quality of the air improves and the allergy symptoms reduce.
The three top-rated furnace filters we have featured above will all work in most homes to provide the right filtration for your home. Based on all the information you have learned in this guide remember that filters with a high MERV rating will remove more particles from the air, including pet dander and pollen. There are many specialty filters available that are specifically for allergy sufferers and those that are capable of removing odors, etc.
Before you purchase an air filter make sure that you know what size filter you need and what your objectives are. Also decide if you want a filter you replace every 1-3 months or do you want one that is washable and that lasts a long time?
The information you have gained in this guide will help you figure out which filter will be the best fit for your needs and will protect your furnace as well. This is a relatively effortless preventative step that can avoid all kinds of furnace repair problems. It is better to spend a few dollars each month than have to pay hundreds to repair a clogged furnace system.