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Which is the Right Furnace Filter?

We should start this post by explaining that within the three main categories of filters, there are many variations on features and installation restrictions. This is meant to be a basic overview to get you started to asking the first right questions before making your final decision.

Media Filters (Paper Filters, Pleated Filters, Washable Filters, Disposable Filters)-

  • Media filters are the first and most basic line of defense when it comes to air filtration. These are a no frills, low efficiency technology that takes care of the basic needs of removing the largest particles before they are deposited in the furnace or back into your home.
  • Most basic media filters range between effectively removing 2-15% of the largest particles from the air stream.
  • Media filters offer no “kill” solution for germs, bacteria, mold or viruses.
  • Media filters are usually disposable and should be replaced every three to four months in the average home.However, there are reusable media filters that can be washed. These filters are most often less effective than the disposable type.

Electronic Air Cleaners

  • Electronic Air Cleaners, or EACs, are the most common upgrade from the standard media filter.
  • EACs are powered and use electrostatic fields to attract particles to the surface of the main filter cartridges.EACs are equipped with washable prefilters that, along with the electrostatic cartridges, need to be cleaned every 3-6 months.
  • EACs are generally rated to effectively remove 75-85% of the largest particles from the air.
  • EACs are not considered to have a “kill” capability.

Air Purifiers

  • Air Purifiers are considered the most effective at cleaning the air stream in your ducts.
  • Air Purifiers will utilize a variety of technologies, layered within the unit, to remove and hold 90-99.9% of the particles in the air. Technologies may include: UV, media filtration, electrostatic, electric sterilization, among others.
  • Some Air Purifiers offer a “kill” capability that can effectively destroy viruses, bacteria, mold and germs.
  • Air Purifiers require an annual maintenance by a professional. Some require annual maintenance kits costing between $100 and $200.

When choosing the right filtration equipment for your system, I suggest first considering how you have experienced the air in your home and what value you place on improving its quality. If you or anyone else in the home have suffered from respiratory ailments, allergies or chronic sinus irritations, you may want to consider that improving your filtration may relieve some of the symptoms or lessen their severity.

If you really have never been concerned with dust or indoor air quality, the basic media filter will do the trick for simply protecting your heating equipment. Whatever filtration type you have installed, be sure to check and change or clean it regularly, at least every 3 to 4 months. A dirty filter can seriously effect your heating system’s ability to operate efficiently and distribute conditioned air around the home.

A last consideration regarding your filtration choice is that your home may be experiencing air contaminant infiltration from a source that will not be addressed by your duct filter. You may need to look into other features of the structure to find the most valuable opportunities for upgrading indoor air quality. These issues are only discovered through a Home and Duct Performance Test (a service offered by Barron Heating and AC).

Good luck and don’t forget to ASK AN EXPERT if you have any further questions.

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