The furnace filter: The forgotten hero of your heating and cooling system
It’s a bright, sunny morning, and you don’t have a care in the world. The birds are chirping, the coffee is hot, and the forecast calls for blue skies all day.
Then, in a fit of panic, you suddenly remember that it’s been a while since you changed your furnace filter. How many times has this happened to you?
Probably never. Most people don’t give their furnace filters a second thought. But maintaining your furnace or air handler’s air filter is crucial to your indoor air quality. Improve every breath with these helpful tips.
Why filter at all?
Today’s homes are built better than ever. And while tighter tolerances and better seals are great for insulation, they also trap contaminants inside the home so they circulate over and over. That is, until they’re drawn into somebody’s lungs where they can trigger disease, allergies and other respiratory difficulties.
Basic isn’t always best
The type of filter you install will have a huge impact on indoor air quality. The least expensive air filters are usually made of a loose fiberglass mesh, are about an inch thick and cost about a dollar each. While they’ll protect your furnace from larger particles, they don’t do a lot towards protecting your lungs from tiny particles.
High efficiency can be highly effective
Inexpensive, one-inch fiberglass filters may not provide enough filtration to affect the quality of your air. Instead, consider a pleated, high-efficiency filter like the Carbon Clean 16 filter which has a MERV 16 rating to achieve the highest possible filtration efficiency. While a more expensive option, it will do a better job of capturing the contaminants that would otherwise circulate in your home.
Don’t forget to check
The frequency with which you change your air filter can depend on many factors, including the type of filter you’re using and the amount of contaminants (dust, dirt, cooking fumes, smoke) your home generates. Checking your filter at least once a month is always a safe bet. If it’s visibly dirty or dark, it’s time for a change. If you have a professionally installed air filtration system, have it maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Size your filter correctly
A filter that’s too small will let dirty air pass around it. A filter that’s too big will not fit properly in your system. Make sure you’re using the correct size for your furnace. You can verify size either by checking the size of the old filter you’re replacing, or by checking the owner’s manual of your furnace.
The cleaning power of a powered air cleaner
For the most effective whole-house air cleaning, consider investing in an electrostatic air cleaner or other powered solution. Many of them use an electrical charge to gather smaller particles that filtration cannot catch. And some, like the PureAir™ Air Purification System, use multiple technologies in unison to clean, deodorize and purify the air for a truly healthier, cleaner environment.