What’s The Best Furnace Filter For My Home?
Allergy season is in full swing – ugh! For homes that are closed up and running the central AC during hot weather, this affords homeowners the opportunity to clean that indoor air thoroughly and remove a large percentage of airborne allergens. In these circumstances, significant relief can be found with the right air cleaning products, and your furnace filter is key. Just like during the heating season, the furnace filter serves a crucial function during the summer, protecting the equipment in your home comfort system and providing you clean air to breathe. The short answer to the question of what type of furnace filter is best, depends on the specifics of your system and home, along with other important factors. Let’s take a closer look.
What Does My Furnace’s Air Filter Do?
The air that circulates through your heating and cooling system passes through your furnace filter on the way back to the furnace from the living space. During this pass-through, the filter catches dust, pollen, and other unwanted particles present in your air supply. Even larger materials, such as pet hair and dander, are captured by a properly maintained furnace filter. Without regularly changing or cleaning of the furnace filter, airflow will eventually become blocked or significantly reduced, often leading to a service visit that could have been easily prevented.
The two primary functions of the furnace filter are to protect you by cleaning the air you breathe, and to protect your heating and cooling equipment from costly breakdowns, extending their effective lifespans while they function as efficiently as possible.
You may have a central air purification system, as well, but it’s important to note that while central air purifiers and air filters work great in tandem, they perform different functions. A central air purifier is effective in protecting against gaseous and microscopic airborne particles, such as mold and fungus, components that cannot be addressed by most furnace filter products.
When Should You Replace The Furnace Filter?
Knowing what the air filter does, it’s important to check it regularly to see if it’s time to replace or clean it. Checking the filter too often is far better than not often enough – especially until you are more familiar with the schedule needed for your system. Factors such as how often the system is operating, construction or remodel projects indoors or outside, the presence of pets, and more, are all factors that affect how often the filter should be replaced.
There is no acceptable rule of thumb for how often your furnace filter should be replaced or cleaned. In some homes, every month is appropriate; in others, every three or four months might work just fine. The only way to determine what’s needed for your home is experience, and some expert advice along the way to make sure you got it right!
Another factor that affects the service schedule of your furnace filter is what type of product you’re using. Thicker air filters tend to have a longer lifespan – sometimes up to a year – while thinner, typically 1” thick filters, might last just a month or two. Permanent washable filters should also be checked regularly and cleaned as needed.
Choosing What’s Right For You
The answer to what’s the best furnace filter for your home is simply the one that best fits your particular circumstances. Every home and lifestyle combine to present unique conditions that require a case-by-case determination for the filter that’s the best fit. You should consider your desired level of performance, budget, how easy it is to access and replace the furnace filter, and your lifestyle and hobbies, among other factors.
There’s a wide variety of products available, from basic, disposable filters, to high-end products such as electronic air cleaners, media filters with and without built-in air purifiers, even filters that incorporate true HEPA filtration – and more. When making a decision about upgrading your furnace filter, it’s important to fully understand your options, including their routine maintenance and annual investment requirements.
The most popular furnace filters with Save Home Heat Company customers are high-quality, 1” thick disposable pleated filters, and 5″ thick MERV11 high-performance media filters. Of course, the higher rated the filter, the better the job it does of arresting allergy symptoms. Media filters with efficiency ratings higher than MERV11 are also available, but in many homes we work in, we’ve found that the additional friction and resistance to airflow added to the system by those filters can negatively impact heating and cooling performance – including utility bills and equipment lifespan. A conscientious homeowner should be careful not to jump at purchasing the most efficient furnace filter available (beware those ‘super ultra-allergen’ disposable filters you see at the store!). Sometimes, the best of intentions can go the wrong way, and this is where professional advice makes all the difference.
Consult The Professionals For Best Results
If you’ve got central AC in your house and, at times, you’re miserable from a seasonal or year-round allergy, don’t suffer needlessly when relaxing or working at home. In the Denver-Boulder area, give the experts at Save Home Heat Company a call. We’d be happy to help you find the right furnace filter to suit your needs. As always, we’ll gladly spend the time to educate you and answer all your questions in a friendly, low-pressure fashion, so you can make an informed decision that’s best for you, your family, and your home.