What are the Different Types of Furnace Filters?


Furnaces require routine maintenance to run smoothly and maintain a comfortable home temperature during winters. A critical aspect of furnace upkeep is to ensure that the air filters are clean and clog-free. Filters remove and trap dust, allergens, pet dander, and other smaller particles to keep the home environment clean, healthy, and safe for easier breathing. Clogged furnace filters can worsen the air quality in the house, increase the energy bills, and hinder the efficient performance of the unit. Dirty filters also restrict airflow and can even lead to complete system failure. Conversely, clean filters facilitate air circulation, putting less strain on the system. 

Homeowners should ensure that they use the correct type of filter for their furnaces and clean or replace them when dirty. However, it can be challenging to choose the right furnace filter from the different available options. Let us look at the different types of furnace filters for residential use:

Fiberglass filters

Fiberglass air filters are disposable, inexpensive, readily available, and the most common furnace filters. They consist of fiberglass strands housed together in a metal frame. Fiberglass filters usually have a MERV rating ranging from 1 to 4. They successfully trap and eliminate larger particles, like dirt, dust, and debris, from the air to keep the system components clean and allow for maximum airflow. However, fiberglass filters are inefficient in filtering the smaller, harmful pollutants that affect the family’s health, including mold, pollen, and bacteria. As a result, these filters are not ideal for households with members suffering from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.

Pleated filters

Pleated filters are a popular furnace filter costing slightly more than fiberglass filters but do a better job filtering smaller particles from the air. They are made from polyester, paper, or cotton, which is folded into pleats. More pleats mean better filtering but reduced airflow and frequent replacement needs. The MERV rating of pleated filters is between 5 and 8. 

Electrostatic filters

Electrostatic filters have static electricity to attract pollutants like a magnet. They are self-charging and are perfect for a home with pets and smokers due to their ability to filter out smoke, pet dander, and other small particulate matters. Choose from washable or disposable electrostatic filters based on the furnace requirements. While disposable electrostatic filters have a MERV rating of around 10, permanent electrostatic filters come with a MERV rating of 8.

HEPA filters

High-efficiency particulate air or HEPA filters are ideal for families with one or more members suffering from allergies or other respiratory diseases or where poor air quality is a significant concern. Though more expensive than other filters, HEPA filters effectively improve air quality and screen up to 99.97% particles larger than 0.3 microns. HEPA filters have a MERV rating of 17 and higher. Contact a professional to ensure that the MERV rating of the HEPA filter is suitable for the system.

Furnace filters are available in a range of sizes and ratings. Consider factors like home size, compatibility with the system, material, filtration level, air quality needs, family health, budget to make an educated choice. Get in touch with an experienced professional who can recommend the best furnace filter to ensure maximum comfort and longer unit life. Remember to wash or replace the filters regularly for better system performance.


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