Have you ever come home to find an unpleasant smell in your house? It’s probably the furnace filter. The best way to tell if it needs replacing is by simply looking at how much dust has collected on top of it and then asking yourself: “Do I feel like cleaning this now?” If not, then the chances are that it’s time for a replacement.
There are many different types of filters out there, but all have one common goal: getting rid of particles from the air before they settle into our lungs or go up through our noses as we breathe them while sleeping.
A furnace filter has one job that is to keep your system clean. There are many dust particles, dirt, fur, and even pollen that floats in the air. If these microscopic particles manage to weave their way into the furnace, they can clog the system. Therefore these filters are essential. However, with time the filters lose their potency and need cleaning. Whether you have basic filters or expensive ones, both filters need treatment. The air that flows around your house goes through the HVAC system. So, with clean filters, you ensure clean air is floating around the house.
If you can’t remember the last time you changed furnace filters, you should visit them now. If you are negligent about replacing these filters regularly, you are piling up expenses. A clogged system needs maintenance and puts in extra work. So, do yourself a favor and replace your furnace filters. If you’re new to the process, this article will help you out. Here’s everything you need to know about replacing furnace filters:
1. Don’t Replace Filters Every 30 Days
Filters don’t follow an arbitrary schedule. If you have pets in the house, the chances of your filter getting dirty are higher than when without. The only time your filters need replacement is when they’re dirty or damaged. If you want to inspect how dirty your filter is, compare it with a new filter. If you feel the filter needs to go, purchase a new one. Furnace filters are also available online. If you live in Charlotte, New Carolina, where the weather can get humid, consider getting filters delivered to you. You save yourself time and can match your measurements online and get the right fit.
2. Don’t Go For Fiberglass
Fiberglass is see-through. However, one of the reasons why they are see-through is because they don’t filter well. You may assume that fiber filters are lasting you longer than pleated filters. But that is not the case. Fiberglass filters only serve an aesthetic purpose and not a functional one. They do a poor job of filtering dust particles, and so these airborne particles are still around you. Some of these particles may travel down the HVAC system, gradually clogging the mechanical and electronic components. You may think you’re saving money since you don’t have to change fiber filters regularly. The reality is you’re well on your way to a large maintenance bill.
3. Pay Attention To The MERV Rating
When buying a filter, you need to pay attention to the MERV for fine air filtration. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. The measurement ranges from 1 to 16. If you pick a MERV rating of 1, you get porous filters, while number 16 is extremely fine. You may work under the assumption that you need to stick with a high rating. However, any rating from 8 to 12 is good enough for your house. The only con of getting a high MERV such as 16 is they get clogged fast. Since these filters are so fine and they’re filtering twice as hard as other filters, expect regular replacements. A 16 MERV rating is for those who have breathing problems or weak immunity. So don’t trouble yourself from spending too much on an unnecessary purchase.
4. Check-In With A Professional
Even if you stay on top of your furnace’s filters, you still need a professional to stop by. Furnace tuning is beyond regular filter changing; there are also internal components. A professional service will inspect the condition of the furnace’s internal parts. These professionals will also clean them, condensate the line and perform combustion analysis. So if you’re switching from cold to hot air, you’re not risking internal damage or a fire. It is a good idea to get a visitation from an HVAC professional annually.
5. Avoid Washable Filters
Many consumers think that a washable filter is better than a disposable one. What they don’t take into account is that washable filters require far more effort. These filters are never thoroughly clean and have a MERV rating between 1 and 4. So, not only will you need to scrub it hard, your air is not getting filtered. Excessive scrubbing can also damage these filters, pushing you to purchase more. Filters can get very expensive, especially if they’re reusable. Therefore, it is not an economic decision, and it is better to switch to disposable filters.
Types of Furnace Filters
If you feel confused about the kinds of filters in store for you, don’t be. Each filter serves its purpose, and once you understand what makes them so different, you will find your match. So here’s a list of a few filters that you will commonly come across:
- Disposable Fiberglass Filter. A disposable fiberglass filter is the most basic and inexpensive model. These filters are fitted within a cardboard frame and are two to three inches thick. However, you will find these filters in varying sizes, lengths, and widths wise. Fiberglass can trap large particles of dust and dirt but struggle with smaller particles. Since the product is disposable, you will need to throw them out after one to two months of usage.
- Disposable Pleated Paper Filter. A disposable pleated paper filter is slightly better than a primary filter. These filters have a MERV rating of 8 and do an excellent job of cleaning smaller particles. Although these filters may cost you extra, they are a good investment. Disposable pleated paper filters will last you from four months to a year.
- Reusable Electrostatic Filters. The most expensive filters from the line of various filters are electrostatic filters. These filters trap smoke and even extremely minute airborne particles. You can find many options online, including a stage electrostatic air filter. These filters are also easy to clean. You can rinse off the dust and particles using a garden hose. Since these filters cost extra, they will last you at least several years if you take care of them properly.
Why Do You Need To Clean Your Filters?
Your filter needs proper cleaning and maintenance. When you neglect your HVAC system, you end up damaging it. Dust and microparticles may find their way into the internal components overworking the system. A clogged filter is ineffective. These dirty filters will pump unclean air that is hazardous for health. In addition, a clogged filter reduces the lifespan of your HVAC system, making it susceptible to extensive work. If you’re operating on a limited budget, a damaged system spells trouble for you. You may end up losing insurmountable money, and it may take you time to recover lost funds. Your and your family’s health comes first. Don’t bail out in purchasing good filters that last you a few years over cheap products. If you have a pet, you may need to replace a filter more often. Animals shed fur, which gets trapped in the filter and makes it dirtier faster.
Furnace filters are part of the HVAC system. If you want air conditioning and heating to work correctly, make sure you keep the filter clean. There are few factors you should keep in mind while you’re cleaning your filters. Furnace filters don’t follow a schedule. You need to pay attention to the accumulation of dust to make a decision. Try staying away from cheap disposables and fiberglass since they do more damage than good. Although the MERV rating matters, you don’t need to get tangled up with a high rating. Even if you’re meticulous about the filters you use, make sure you still get a professional to check. Finally, avoid washable filters unless necessary since they are porous and not easy to clean. If you follow these factors, you should have no trouble replacing your furnace filters.