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How to Choose a Furnace Filter

Changing furnace filter

When it comes to protecting your family’s health, one of the things homeowners often forget about is how furnace filters can enhance air quality. While they were originally designed to prevent dirt from entering HVAC systems and affecting performance, advances in filter technology mean they can also significantly contribute to better air quality in your home.

When it comes to choosing the right filter, it can be confusing to know how much you should spend. We’ve narrowed down a few of the things that can help you find the right one for your family, ensuring the air you breathe is clean while balancing out affordability.

Cheaper versus more expensive

Generally speaking, the more expensive the filter, the better job it will do. Cheap fibreglass filters are mostly intended to prevent larger dirt particles from affecting the performance of your system and make very little, if any, contribution to improved air quality.

Using a fibreglass filter is still better than nothing. Keeping your HVAC system clean can prolong its life and prevent costly breakdowns.

On the other hand, a more expensive filter can filter out a lot of the pollutants, dust, and irritants that affect a home’s air quality. Performance depends on its density and ability to collect particles, and how much you want to spend on a higher-quality furnace filter will depend on your circumstances.

What to Consider

Families with pets or smokers generate a higher volume of air pollutants and generally benefit from higher-quality filters. Also consider how many people live in your home. The higher the number of residents, the more work your furnace filter needs to do.

If you suffer from allergies, it is worth the investment to buy the best filter recommended for your system. A high quality filter can remove 70-90% of pollutants, which makes a big difference in air quality, particularly for allergy sufferers.

Making a Choice

One thing that can help you determine the right filter for your needs is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). This is a rating system from 1-16 (although it maxes out at 12 for homeowners; higher ratings are usually reserved for institutional settings like hospitals).

Higher numbers indicate a greater ability to remove particles. Check your furnace manual to determine the highest rating recommended for your system. Exceeding the recommended value can negatively impact air flow, causing problems for your system.

Generally, a value of over 7 will give you some good assurance that you’re removing enough particles to provide good air quality in your home. If you’re concerned about smokers or have allergies, reach for the higher end of the rating system with a filter that has a MERV of 8-12.

Your Options

Fibreglass filters are the cheapest on the market and usually only have a MERV of 2 or 3. If it’s all you can afford, this will help protect your HVAC system, but will do very little to improve air quality.

An electrostatic filter provides a better balance of affordability and air quality protection by capturing smaller particles. These filters magnetically attract contaminants, including bacteria, dander, odours, and smoke particles.

The best option is to combine electrostatic with pleats. A pleated filter gives superior protection by increasing the surface area of the filter and can remove up to 90% of pollutants from your home’s air circulation.

If you invest in a more expensive option, you can enhance the benefits by using an air purifier and employing a high efficiency vacuum. Regularly vacuuming both your home and your furnace filter will help achieve the best air quality.

As we look to reduce consumption and our environmental impact, you may be tempted to use a washable, reusable filter. These don’t usually work as effectively as disposable ones and are prone to clogs from infrequent washes. Better air quality is more easily achieved with a disposable filter.

When to Change your Filter

Good filters have the added benefit of needing less frequent replacements. A pleated electrostatic filter needs to be changed about every three months, versus recommended monthly changes for inexpensive fibreglass filters.

An easy rule to follow is that if your filter looks dirty, it is. Replace it. Dirty filters can clog, reducing air flow and causing overheating and shutdowns. If you want to be more precise, you can invest in an air filter gauge that accurately measures air flow.

Dirty furnace filter

Schedule regular filter changes into your calendar based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and adjusting for your family’s specific needs. This might mean more frequent changes are required to accommodate the level of pollutants in your home.

Keeping extra filters on hand can make this task simple. Don’t forget to change filters at least as often in the summer months. Higher speeds in air conditioners mean filters have to work even harder in warm weather than in the wintertime.

Hire a Reputable Company

Making sure you take care of regular furnace filter changes is an important part of keeping your system functioning smoothly and your air quality high, but it’s not the only thing you need to do to be protected.

Regular furnace inspections and maintenance are essential to ensure optimal functioning. This gives you the peace of mind that your family won’t be affected by dangerous gas leaks or breakdowns during the colder months.

A well-maintained HVAC system with regularly cleaned ducts also requires less energy to keep your home at the right temperature, reducing wear and tear and energy costs.

Trust Whyte Ridge Furnace & Air Duct Cleaning in Winnipeg, Manitoba to provide you with exceptional and trustworthy service. Combined with regular furnace filter changes, you’ll be confident in your home’s air quality and rest assured that your family is protected.

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