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Furnace Filters: Picking a Filter

Keep your home’s air clean and your furnace clear with the right furnace filter.

As a homeowner, you want your home’s air to be clean. Furnace filters clean particles from the air going through your HVAC system. This helps the air quality in your home. They also keep your furnace healthy. Using the proper furnace filter will increase the lifespan of your HVAC system. If you don’t use the right furnace filter, you can actually clog the airflow into your HVAC system. The same thing happens if furnace filters aren’t changed or cleaned regularly. Ultimately, your furnace filter should decrease the amount of allergens in your house. Learn about the different kinds of available furnace filters.

Furnace Filters: Picking a Filter
Furnace filters keep your air clean and your HVAC system properly running. Learn about the different kinds of furnace filters and their MERV ratings.

MERV Rating

When you’re purchasing a furnace filter, you should know which MERV rating works for you. MERV is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This measures the efficiency of your air filter. This scale goes from one to 20. This scale rates a filter’s worst possible performance of filtering particles at a size of .3 to 10 microns.

The typical MERV rating for home filters is in the 1 to 12 range. Hospitals and general surgeries will have filters with a higher MERV rating, ranging from 13 to 16. Any MERV rating higher than 16 will be found In electronics and pharmaceutical manufacturing cleanrooms. These are specially designed to control viruses, carbon dust, sea salt and smoke. Home furnace filters commonly remove particles such as:

  • pollen
  • dust mites
  • carpet fibers
  • pet dander
  • mold spores
  • dust
  • bacteria

A high MERV rating does not mean a better filter. Your filter can become more clogged if it has a higher MERV rating. This can make your HVAC system ineffective.

Types of Furnace Filters

Disposable Fiberglass

Disposable fiberglass furnace filters are the most commonly used filters. These filters prevent dust, lint and debris from clogging up your furnace system. They are inexpensive, but have little effect on keeping the air clean. The MERV rating is 2-3.

Disposable Pleated

Disposable pleated filters are usually made from polyester or cotton paper. They can filter out some tiny particles, like spores and mites. They’re a great option because they’re inexpensive. They can be made from eco-friendly materials. If they are not changed frequently they can clog your HVAC system. The MERV rating is 6.

Disposable Electrostatic

Disposable electrostatic filters carry an electronic charge. This electronic charge acts like a magnet. Electrostatic furnace filters attract dust particles through their electric charge. These filters are made from cotton or paper fibers. Standard size disposable electrostatic filters are easily affordable. They can get expensive if you need a custom size.They are great for houses with pets, smokers or children.The MERV rating is 10.

Permanent Electrostatic

These are similar to the disposable kind of electrostatic filters. The cotton fibers attract particles using an electronic charge. The permanent filters can be removed, and cleaned in a washing machine. They are reusable for about six to eight years. These filters are cost effective. They are environmentally friendly because they produce little waste. Custome size permanent electrostatic filters can be expensive. The MERV rating is 8.

High-efficiency Pleated

These are the most expensive furnace filters available. They filter the smallest particles, and are typically used in hospitals. High-efficiency pleated furnace filters can be helpful for people with respiratory or autoimmune health issues. These are not commonly found in homes because of their bulky size and cost. The MERV rating for these filters is 14-16.


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