Find the right furnace filter

When thinking about home maintenance, your furnace filter is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But it may be time to rethink your home maintenance priorities. Furnace filters are an inexpensive and easy-to-replace item with an important purpose. Filters protect your blower fan and compressor from particles and debris that could damage your system and impact air quality in your home. There are numerous filter sizes, styles and designs to choose from, but with these tips, you’ll be able to quickly and easily pick the best filter for your unit:

  1. Determine the right size

    Most furnace filters have their size printed on them, so you can check your existing filter for the correct measurements. If you aren’t able to find the size, check the owner’s manual or website. You can also measure the current filter being used as well as the width, height and depth of the furnace filter slot. Filters normally have two sets of measurements – the “Actual size,” which include the true dimensions of the filter, and the “Nominal size”, which is the actual size rounded up to the next whole number. For example, a filter with an actual size of 19.5” x 19.5” x .75” has a nominal size of 20” x 20” x 1”. Two filters might that have the same nominal size might not necessarily have the same actual size, making it important to check the size of your insert. Take your measurements with you to ensure you’re getting the one that will best fit the available space.

  2. Select desired benefits

    Filters have different benefits based on the material that they’re made of and will have a major impact on air quality in your home. Considerations for filter materials might include how long you plan on living in your home or apartment, as well as if you or any of your family members have any medical concerns like allergies or asthma. Here’s a rundown of filter materials and their capabilities.

      • Disposable fiberglass Prevents larger particles like dust and lint from clogging the system. These are the least expensive option, but can’t remove bacteria, mold, pollen or smaller particles.
      • Disposable pleated Removes particles like spores and mites. These are the most common filters as they allow for better air flow while filtering out common allergens and fine dust in the air. If you have asthma or allergies, this is an inexpensive but effective option.
      • Permanent or disposable electrostatic Attracts small particles; these filters can be washed to extend lifespan. However, while these filters are good for allergy and asthma sufferers, they are much more expensive to replace than other options.
      • High-efficiency pleated Removes the smallest particles. High-efficiency filters are generally designed for major health needs and are often used in commercial buildings like hospitals. However, they can restrict your airflow if your ventilation system isn’t designed to support these types of filters. Check with the manufacturer to make sure that your family stays healthy and comfortable.
  3. Pick a price point

  4. Filters with a higher minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating will render better air quality, but they cost more to regularly replace. MERV was developed on a scale from 1 to 16 to determine the efficiency of air filters, meaning that the higher the MERV rating, the fewer dust particles and contaminants will pass through the filter.  If anyone in your home has special health needs, the investment might be necessary. Consider pets, indoor pollutants and your budget when you’re picking the right filter for you and your family. Regardless of what you choose, make sure to change and clean your filter as recommended to remain as comfortable as possible and help your furnace do its job effectively.