Which Furnace Filter is Best to Protect Your Family?
Winter is coming, and that means you’ll be spending a lot more time indoors. For that reason, it’s one of the most important times of year to change out your furnace’s air filter.
What are the risks if you don’t change your furnace filter?
Furnace air filters are a critical, but often overlooked, part of your HVAC system. You should change your filter every 1-3 months, depending on the type of filter you have, if you have pets in the home, and how much your furnace is operating. A clean filter can prevent a number of problems and keep your furnace working properly, while a dirty filter can cause more damage than you might think.
- Poor air quality
The primary purpose of furnace air filters is to trap and remove dust, pet hair, and other allergens in your home. A dirty filter can significantly lower the air quality in your home, making it difficult to breathe. Poor air quality has been linked to allergies and sickness, especially in people who are already prone to respiratory issues like asthma. Babies, young children, and older adults are also more susceptible to these health risks.
- Stressed HVAC system
The main function of your furnace is to push warm air through your house. That warm air has to first go through the air filter, but as the filter gets dirty, it becomes harder for the air to move through the filter and the furnace can get clogged. When this happens, the air won’t flow through, causing your furnace motor to work harder. As a result, the unit could overheat, possibly leading to a fire or other major issues. If the furnace works too hard and overheats, it may need to be replaced entirely, which is more expensive than replacing a dirty air filter.
If this happens, we can take care of any minor or major problem that your furnace may encounter during the cold winter months. Or if you need a new unit, we offer installation and service for all major manufacturer brands, such as Lennox, Aire-Flo, and many more.
Choosing the right filter for your home
When you’re shopping for filters, you will see a MERV rating, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating is a measurement from 1 to 16 to rate the effectiveness of the filter. The higher the MERV value the more efficient your filter will be at capturing all the nasty stuff that can make you feel sick.
A MERV rating between 8 and 11 is sufficient for most homes, filtering out dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander while allowing for the best air flow to the system. Sometimes, the higher MERV ratings can restrict air flow and cause the furnace to malfunction, so it is best to speak with a professional to discuss which furnace filter best suits your needs.
There’s a wide variety of air filters available, but the answer to which furnace filter is best for your home will depend on your family’s particular needs.
Does a family member have allergies?
If you or someone in your family has allergies or other respiratory problems such as asthma, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are often recommended. While HEPA filters are more expensive than fiberglass or pleated filters, they are the most effective at removing up to 99% of airborne pollutants in your home. If someone in your household has allergies, it is recommended to change the filter every 30 days.
Do you have any family pets living indoors?
If you family has pets, you will experience more issues with pet hair and dander in your furnace filter. Both pleated air filters and HEPA filters will catch pet hair and dander, while fiberglass options will not be sufficient. However, if someone in your household is allergic to pet dander, then a pleated filter may also not be enough. A higher MERV rating may be necessary for those with more severe allergies. If you’re not allergic, but own pets, a standard MERV rating between 8 and 11 should be enough. Homes with pets should change their filter at least every 60 days.
Do you live in a dusty/polluted area?
Air outside your home will become air inside your home. It’s unavoidable. It may seem counter-intuitive, given our abundance of space and greenery, but many Alaskans are actually living in areas with poor air quality. Air filters with higher MERV ratings can prevent contaminants in outdoor air from being distributed around your home.
Are you focusing on the wrong thing?
Cheap fiberglass filters are designed to stop dust, debris, and hair from gunking up the system. While they do little to filter out allergens and other irritants in the home, using them keeps your HVAC system clean and efficient. Make sure you’re focusing on air quality, not just the operation of your HVAC system, to keep your family happy and healthy this winter.
Not sure about which type of filter is best for your HVAC system and your family? Moore Heating & Air Conditioning can help. Contact us for more information.