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How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter

How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter

August 27th, 2017

Canadian seasons can swing quickly and dramatically. It seems like we can go from balmy summer temperatures, down to frigid fall, and back to summer in the span of a week. This means that it’s not that uncommon for homeowners to run their air conditioner and their furnace within a few days of each other. However, one thing that is constant is that regardless of whether you’re trying to cool down or heat up your home, all the air coming from your vents needs to pass through the same air filter in your furnace.

Having a high-quality and high-efficiency air filter can make a huge difference in the comfort of your home. Not only that, but they also can have a significant impact on the efficiency of your HVAC system, especially if they are not changed regularly. A general rule of thumb for changing a furnace air filter is about every 3 months. The more the HVAC system runs, the faster the air filters will get packed up with dust, hair and airborne particles which reduces their ability to clean the air and restricts airflow, causing energy efficiency to decrease.

In addition, things like pets, smoking, and home renovations can increase the amount of dust and particles in the air that the filter needs to capture and remove. These factors result in a furnace filter needing to be replaced more often to ensure a good quality of air and efficiency of your HVAC system. If these are factors in your home, then you may want to replace your filter every two months, or even monthly.

Choosing a replacement filter for your furnace may seem pretty simple, but a quick scan down the aisle of your local home improvement or hardware store will show you a ton of options, and not a lot of clarity on which one you really need. Here are some tips you can use to choose the best furnace air filter for your home:

Size

This one is easy, as there really will only be one size that fits your furnace. A quick look at the filter that is currently installed in your furnace will tell you the size you will need. The size is usually printed on the frame of the filter in large text, so it’s easy to spot. An example of a typical furnace filter size is 16” tall by 25” long by 1” wide, usually printed as 16x25x1 on the filter itself.

MERV Rating

This acronym stands for ‘Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value’, but it really just means how good the filter is at capturing particles from the air. The higher the rating, the better it captures particles. Standard furnace filters will have a MERV rating somewhere around 8 or 9. Higher quality and higher efficiency filters will have rating at 11 or higher, which means they remove a greater amount of dust particles and allergens from the air. If your family suffers from airborne allergies, a filter with a higher MERV rating would be a wise choice.

One important thing to note on MERV ratings is that some furnaces actually have a maximum recommended MERV rating, as the efficiency of the furnace depends on a certain level of airflow through the filter. Having a MERV rating that is too high can cause the efficiency of your HVAC system to decline, so make sure you don’t go overboard looking for the highest MERV rating you can find. It’s best to call a professional home comfort expert for advice if you aren’t sure what rating is best for your home.

Design

The most popular type of furnace air filter is a pleated paper/polyester filter. These are a good balance between cost and efficiency, and do a good job of removing household dust and allergens. Disposable fiberglass filters tend to be cheaper, but are also less efficient and should be replaced more often. Permanent reusable filters are the most expensive to purchase, but as their name implies they also have the longest life. However, these filters need to be cleaned and washed regularly, so they require more maintenance than a disposable filter.

Much like anything else you invest in for your home, you get what you pay for when you choose a furnace filter. Good quality and high efficiency furnace filters may cost a bit more, but they do a better job of keeping your air clean and help maintain the efficiency of your HVAC system. If you need help choosing a filter for your furnace, or have any other questions that our home comfort experts can answer, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help.

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