Replacing the Furnace Filter

Furnace filters are important part of your heating system Having clean filters will not only boost the performance of your furnace, but will also ensure cleaner air is blowing into your home.  Here is some information on furnace filters.

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What does a furnace filter do?

The blower fan collects a lot of dust and debris that the return duct pulls in over time. The main purpose of a furnace filter is to protect the blower fan from all these particles and keep them from entering your home’s air.

What type of filter should you choose?

Your furnace requires a specific type of filter.  Check the product name and code on your current filter to get the right size and type.  There are different kinds of filters that range in cost and quality.

Disposable pleated kind: A combination of paper and polyester make up this type of filter, which does a good job filtering out the dust and allergens. They cost anywhere between a dollar all the way up to $35, depending on the rating, brand and size. They should ideally be replaced in 90 days.

Reusable (washable) filters: Made from either plastic or solid aluminum, these filters are said to be more efficient than the disposable filters. These filters aren’t recommended for all types of furnaces. These filters can be removed, vacuumed or washed with water, and also reused for up to 5 years, if they have been maintained well with proper cleaning from time-to-time.

Electrostatic filters: Both disposable and washable filters have electrostatic versions. These filters charge themselves when air passes through them, ensuring that even the smallest particles are trapped. These filters are especially good if there are any smokers in the room.

What is MERV?

You’ll notice the filters will have a MERV rating.  A ‘minimum efficiency reporting value’ (MERV) rating determines the efficiency of the filter. MERV rating ranges from 1-16, 16 being the most efficient. If your furnace filter has a MERV rating of 16, then almost all the dust particles can be filtered. This is good in a way, but not in all cases. Higher MERV rated filters require the furnace to work harder to provide the desired temperature. Hence, a MERV rating of between 8-12 is recommended for home use. To be on a safer side, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions to check the maximum MERV rating that is suitable for your furnace.

You can purchase a furnace filter at a local hardware store, or from an HVAC contractor or furnace retailer.


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