10 Tips for Finding the Best Furnace Filter
Although winters in Las Vegas, NV and the surrounding area are short, temperatures dip low enough that you’ll need your furnace for warmth. Each time your furnace cycles, the air handler distributes the heated air into your home’s network of ducts. Part of this process involves pushing the air across or through a filter. Choosing the right furnace filter for your system makes all the difference in your home’s air quality and has a big impact on the efficiency and performance of the furnace. Our knowledgeable technicians offer these 10 tips on finding the best furnace filter for your home’s heating system.
1. Check the Current Filter
A quick way to find the right replacement filter for your furnace is to check the filter already installed in the unit. If you’re unsure where the furnace filter is located, your service technician can show you during your annual furnace tune-up. You can also refer to your furnace or air handler’s owner’s manual or an online diagram of the furnace to locate the filter. You could also follow the ductwork to find the air handler. The ductwork begins at the air handler.
Most filters are located within a small metal box called a housing. The housing might require a screw to open the door. Slide the filter out of its housing. Furnace filters typically have markings to indicate their dimensions. The filter should indicate the length, width, and thickness, as well as its minimum efficiency reported value (MERV) rating. In most cases, you’ll need to replace the current dirty filter with a new, clean one in the same dimensions.
2. Review the Owner’s Manual
If you can’t make out the markings on the current filter in your furnace, your owner’s manual should have instructions on filter change frequency, type, size, and other requirements. This information is usually located in the maintenance or setup portion of the owner’s manual. If your furnace is old or you lost the printed manual, you may be able to find this information online. You’ll need the make and model number of the furnace in order to find the correct owner’s manual.
Selecting the correct size and MERV rating for the filter ensures that you’re in compliance with the manufacturer’s operating requirements. Picking the right filter also makes sure that you’re meeting the stipulations of the furnace warranty.
3. Ask Your Maintenance Technician
The maintenance technician can provide you with information on choosing the right furnace filter. They clean and replace furnace filters for all makes and models of heating systems and have in-depth knowledge about the filters that offer the right combination of air quality and efficiency for your heating system and your home.
The technician can change the filter for you during the maintenance visit and make a recommendation on filter brands and features for use between professional tune-ups. Our technicians are also available to change the furnace filter for you at any time during the colder months of the year.
4. Consider the MERV Rating
Most furnaces accept a range of MERV ratings for new filters. The MERV rating measures the size of the particles and the percentage of those particles trapped by the filter. Today’s disposable furnace filters feature MERV ratings up to 20, but these are typically only for hospital and laboratory use. For most homes, a MERV rating of 11 to 13 provides the right balance of air quality and furnace efficiency.
As the MERV rating increases, the filter sequesters smaller particles and more of them; however, higher MERV ratings may negatively impact airflow and furnace efficiency. We recommend choosing a MERV rating in the middle of the range accepted by your furnace.
5. Review Your Schedule
A flat filter needs to be changed about every 30 days, while a pleated furnace filter may only need to be replaced every 60 to 90 days. Reusable filters require cleaning every 30 to 90 days. Review your schedule, and think about the amount of time you have for dealing with air filter cleaning or replacement. If you’re unlikely to remember to change the filter every month, you might want to select a filter that lasts for 90 days.
6. Think About Your Health
People with year-round allergies and those with chronic breathing disorders may benefit from a furnace filter with a higher MERV rating. These filters will remove more of the airborne pollutants from your home’s air. Asthma, COPD, and other conditions are often triggered or worsened by breathing particles into the lungs. If your household includes someone who is medically fragile, such as a newborn baby or an elderly person, you may also want to select a filter at the top of the accepted MERV rating for your make and model of furnace.
7. Optimize the Indoor Air Quality
Even if you or the members of your household don’t have any breathing disorders or allergies, everyone benefits from good indoor air quality. Cooking and cleaning generate oils and aerosols. Common wintertime activities, such as lighting a fire in the fireplace or burning candles, also create indoor air pollution. In the winter season, colds and influenza circulate in households through respiratory droplets.
Furnace filters with higher MERV ratings remove more of the bacteria-laden droplets from your home’s air. You might want an air filter at the maximum MERV rating accepted by your furnace so that you can breathe easier and lower your risk of getting sick.
8. Look Into Eco-friendly Options
Disposable filters are bulky, and most communities don’t have a recycling program in place for them. If you’re concerned about the waste generated by frequent furnace filter changes, look into the eco-friendly options that work for your heating system. Many furnaces offer compatibility with electrostatic filters. These filters can be cleaned and reused for many years. If your furnace won’t accept an electrostatic filter, choosing a filter with a longer lifespan will improve its environmental friendliness.
9. Determine Your Budget
Filters with a higher MERV rating or a longer lifespan cost more up front. However, high MERV ratings may also cause a drop in the efficiency of your furnace, which could increase your heating costs. Calculate the cost per day for the filter and any potential daily increase in your home’s energy use. Many furnace filters provide this information. Energy Star, a program created by the United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, also provides information about the costs to operate heating systems with different types of filters.
10. Account for Your Furnace Use
If you only use your furnace for a few weeks of the year, you might not need a high-end filter that lasts for three months. If your furnace is in use for the entire winter, a filter that lasts through the season may be more convenient and cost-effective.
In addition to heating system maintenance, we also offer air conditioning maintenance and heating and cooling repair and replacement. Our plumbers provide a full range of plumbing maintenance, repair, and installation services. Homeowners in Las Vegas also count on us for indoor air quality solutions and duct cleaning. For more information on finding the right furnace filter for your home’s heating system, contact us at BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair.