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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a furnace filter?

A furnace filter is a detachable part of the furnace assembly. Its main function is to remove contaminants from the air flow. This protects the blower fan from harmful particles, such as hair and dust, which also improves the quality of the air circulating through the duct. Furnace filters come in various types, shapes, and sizes. As time goes by, the filter itself starts collecting particles, which causes a reduced efficiency of the furnace. Therefore, it is necessary to change or clean the filter regularly. As a rule of thumb, you should replace or wash the filter at least once every month.

For more information on furnace filters visit http://globalnews.ca/news/1621011/what-you-need-to-know-about-furnace-filters/


How Do Air Filters Affect Indoor Air Quality?

As they remove harmful contaminants, air filters help improve the quality of air circulating indoors. Studies reveal that indoor air pollution can be up to 100 times higher than outdoor air pollution. This means that indoor air pollutants may expose people to an array of diseases and conditions, including asthma, allergy, and breathing difficulties. Therefore, an air filter plays a vital role in maintaining clean air flow circulating through houses, offices, or schools. A filter's ability to remove air pollutants depends on its efficiency, which range from low to medium to high. Low-efficiency filters mainly eliminate larger particles, such as dust, while medium to high efficiency filters remove smaller particles, such as bacteria.

For more information on how air filters affect indoor air quality check out https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/improving-indoor-air-quality


Does my furnace have a filter?

Whether your furnace has a filter or not depends on its type. Warm air furnaces always have filters; however, a boiler usually does not have one. Generally speaking, furnace filters are located inside the blower compartment, but that is not always the case. Often, you want to know if your furnace has a filter so you can replace or clean it. In order to find the filter, you need to look for it inside the furnace assembly. Up flow and down flow furnaces have the filter somewhere in the blower compartment. On the other hand, horizontal furnaces and air handlers often have a slide in filter rack.

For more information visit http://www.filtersusa.com/filterchanging.cfm


Is It the Same Filter for Heat and AC?

Generally speaking, Heat and AC have the same filter. In both, the filter's function is to clean the air circulating the ducts from dust, debris, and other contaminants. This protects the AC or furnace assembly from damage and improves air quality. However, people usually give differentiate between the two according to the intended use, which is heating for furnaces and cooling for ACs.  Also, in hot weather or areas, most individuals will look for an AC filter rather than a furnace, or heat, filter. On the other hand, during the colder months or in chillier areas, the majority of people will most likely search for a furnace filter.


For more information on heat and ac filters check out http://www.discountfilters.com/blog/airconditioningfilterfurnacefilterthing/


What Kinds of Filters Are There?

In simple terms, furnace filters fall into one of two categories; washable or disposable. There are many types of filters out there, however, let us review the 4 most common ones:

Fiberglass: Made of layers of fiberglass fibers, this is one of the most common types of filters. It is inexpensive but can only stop larger particles, such as dust or lint.

Pleated: Similar to fiberglass filters, but they are constructed from cotton and polyester paper. They are a bit more efficient than fiberglass, but require regular checkups and replacement.

Electrostatic: Made from paper or cotton fibers that self-charges, which allows it to trap smaller pollutants. A bit more expensive than pleated filters, though.

High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA): The most efficient at filtering the smallest particles, but it is the most expensive. It is usually found in hospitals or similar institutions.



How often should I change my air filter?

This depends on several factors, including the type of air filter, air quality in the city, the presence of pets, and the physical condition of the occupants. First, air filters are either permanent (washable) or disposable. Permanent air filters require regular cleaning, but they endure for a few years before you ever need to change them. Disposable air filters, however, require replacement every 1 – 3 months.  Typically, most disposable filters need to be replaced once every 2 months. Nevertheless, if you have pets or suffer from allergies, it is recommended that you replace your air filter at least once a month. Lastly, it is a good idea to consult manufacturer's specifications for exact figures.

For additional information on how often you should change your air filter visit http://www.serviceexperts.com/blog/how-frequently-should-i-change-my-air-conditioner-air-filter


What can be the consequences if a furnace filter is not replaced?

There are 4 major consequences for not replacing a furnace filter. Firstly, this leads to polluted ducts that result in dirty air circulating the household, which could cause physical conditions or symptoms, such as allergies, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Secondly, because the air filter is clogged with particles, this reduces air flow and may lead to AC failure. Thirdly, as dirt and dust build up on the AC's internal parts, this reduces the cooling efficiency of the unit. Lastly, due to reduction in both air flow and cooling efficiency, the AC unit uses more electricity than normal to function, leading to significant increase of your utility bill.

For more information on the risks of not replacing your filter check out http://averyheating.com/blog/dirty-air-filter-heres-can-happen


How Do I Change an Air Filter?

Replacing an air filter requires going through certain steps to ensure a safe and proper installation. First, you need to locate the filter, which is always in the return air duct. After finding the air filter, you should turn the power off in three locations to avoid hazards of electricity. After you do this, it is necessary to figure out the right size of the filter, this is crucial as installing the wrong size equals having no filter. Next, remove the old filter gently, cleaning the filter area with a cloth. Before proceeding to install the new filter, you need to find the airflow arrow and make sure it and the airflow arrow on the filter points the same way. Finally, install the new filter firmly to avoid air leakage.



What kind of filter should I use?

The first step to selecting the right filter is to size your filter slot correctly, doing this is covered in the next question but if you aren’t sure you can always bring in your old filter to the store and have someone identify its size for you. The key thing you want to look for when selecting a filter is a high MERV rating. The air filters that have the highest MERV rating are: high-efficiency and pleated polyester. High efficiency filters usually have a MERV rating between 14-16 and are made from pleated specialty filter paper or synthetic polyester. Pleated filters can range from 8-13 and are made polyester or cotton. Choosing a filter with a MERV rating around 9 is recommended for most homes.

Fiberglass filters usually have a MERV rating between 1 – 4 and only remove 10% of the dust in your home, hence they are not recommended.

For more information on filters visit http://globalnews.ca/news/1621011/what-you-need-to-know-about-furnace-filters/


What is a MERV rating?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s a very important number to understand when selecting your air filter. The scale runs from 1 – 16 with 16 being the highest level of air efficiency. The MERV uses particles from 0.3 to 10 microns in size. A filter with a MERV rating between 1 – 4 will not stop particles under 10 microns in size. This is not good as pet dander, dust, smog, viruses, smoke, bacteria and pollen all fall between 1 – 16 microns so the odds are not in your favor with these filters. A MERV score between 5 – 8 is more acceptable for home use because they will stop particle as little as 3 microns. MERV scores between 9 – 12 are even better and are commonly used in commercial and industrial buildings, but are available to homeowners as well. These filters can stop particles in the 1 – 3 micron range. It’s important to note that you have to keep an eye on filters with these ratings and change them regularly or you risk restriction of airflow.

For more information on MERV ratings visit http://www.webproducts.com/merv-furnace-filter-efficiency


How do MERV ratings stack up against the 3M rating system?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, a filter rating system established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. As the international industry standard, this rating system rates a filter's capacity to trap and retain particles and contaminants. Other manufacturers, such as 3M, developed different rating systems to measure filter's efficiency. 3M came up with MPR (Micro-Particle Performance Rating), which rates filter's ability to catch particles sizing less than 1 micron. While both systems serve a similar purpose In terms of popularity, MERV is the most widely used rating system both domestically and globally. Performance charts exist to compare between MERV and 3M's MPR.

For more information on MERV ratings visit https://www.cleartheairinc.com/Resource_Center_Frequently_Asked_Questions_s/52.htm


How is furnace filter efficiency measured?

There are many ways air filters are measured, but the two most common types of ratings you will see are: HEPA and MERV. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air filter. The requirements put on HEPA filters is higher than MERV standards. If you were to translate a HEPA rated filter to the MERV system the filter would score somewhere around 17-20. The highest MERV rating possible is 16. That being said, you probably don’t need a HEPA graded filter in your home, a medium to high MERV graded filter will work just fine. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting value and is the most common rating type you will see on filters along with a percentage of particles stopped by the filter.

Both rating systems measure the ability for the filter to remove particles of a given size from air passing through. Normally you will see a MERV/HEPA rating and a percentage efficiency rating on a filter (even though MERV/HEPA ratings correlate to air efficiency). If the filter stopped all particles going through it would be 100% efficient, but chances are it would restrict airflow as well so you don’t want to simply buy the most efficient filter available

For more information on measuring air filter efficiency and other ways to rate filters see http://furnacefiltercare.com/performance/furnace-filter-ratings/



What are my air filter dimensions?

There are two ways to find out the size of your filter. The first is to look along the edges on your current filter. There it usually state the length, width and depth by L x W x D. When choosing a filter remember that length and width are interchangeable.

If your current filter doesn’t have its dimensions written on it you can pull out a measuring tape. You may find that your filter isn’t exactly 1” in depth or is 11.25 inches long. The measurements you took yourself are an actual dimension measuring, but nominal dimensions are what air filters are sold by. What’s a nominal dimension? It’s a measurement that’s rounded to the nearest inch. So if you measure your filter an it’s 24.6 x 16.3 x 0.8 you would look for a filter pack that is 25 x 16 x 1. Ideally you would be able to find a filter that matches your actual dimensions but often you will have to go with the nominal dimension.

For more information on sizing your filter visit https://www.allfilters.com/airfilter/filterdimensions


How Do Air Filters Help Me Save Money?

Assuming you purchase a good air filter you probably spend anywhere from $10 – $20 per filter, and you change filters every 3 months, This means you are spending $40 - $80 a year on filters. While that’s not a lot, understandably you’d like to know how spending money on this saves you money. To put it simply your HVAC system makes up about half of your energy bill each month and changing your filters increases the efficiency of that system by 15%. In the end you end up saving 7.5% percent per bill just by changing the air filter regularly. 7.5% may not seem like a lot but when you put that into numbers it’s easy to see how it saves you money. Let’s demonstrate with an example. Say your energy bill is $100 per month that’s $90 you’re saving per year on your energy bill. This easily offsets the cost of replacing the filters and chances are your energy bill is more than that so you are seeing even more savings.

More information on how changing your air filter saves you money here: http://blog.filtersnap.com/can-i-save-money-by-changing-my-air-filter/


Why should I use a high efficiency air filter instead of the less expensive fiberglass filter?

Fiberglass filters only stop 10% of the particles going through the filter, and that’s on a god day. Most of the time that number is much less. Fiberglass filters are really only recommended as a minimal protection and that is why they are available for so cheap. You will also have to replace fiberglass filters more frequently than high efficiency filters. The fiberglass filter also runs the risk of allowing dust to enter the HVAC system itself and build up on various coils and motors and end up costing you hundreds in repairs. A high efficiency filter on the other hand have a higher MERV rating, usually between 14 and 16, and stops very small particles that a fiberglass filter won’t.

In the past MERV ratings this high also meant that you also had reduced airflow but this is not necessarily the case anymore with new materials, filter construction increasing airflow along with advances in HVAC technology. The new high efficiency filters thus have better airflow levels than in the past and can be used in the home safely most of the time.

More information on high efficiency filters is available here http://www.directenergy.com/blog/check-air-filters-right-home/


What is a high efficiency filter, and do I need a high efficiency filter if I have a high efficiency furnace?

High efficiency filters are filters that are extra deep, usually 4-5 inches of synthetic pleated cotton and are encased in a metal box that stops air leaks. These filters are undeniably more expensive than pleated polyester or washable filters and are usually found in commercial and industrial buildings, though this is slowly changing as new technology is developed.

You do not need a high efficiency furnace to use a high efficiency filter and the reverse is also true: you do not need a high efficiency filter for your high efficiency furnace, though it is recommended and your high efficiency furnace will work very well with a high efficiency filter. That being said, in order to use a high efficiency filter you may need to have your furnace inspected to see if it could push enough air through for adequate airflow in your home.

More information on high efficiency filters and furnaces can be found here http://fourseasonsfurnace.com/how-to-choose-between-a-disposable-and-high-efficiency-furnace-filter/


Will I save money using a more efficient filter?

Yes. The more efficient your HVAC system is the more money you will save on your energy bill and using a good filter will increase the efficiency of your HVAC system by up to 15%. Since your furnace can make up to %50 of your energy bill increasing HVAC efficiency will lead to significant savings. On an energy bill of $100 you stand to save $7.50 on your energy bill just by having an efficient filter and that filter is being changed regularly every 3 months.

For more information on saving money and air filter efficiency visit http://www.ontimeairfilters.com/air-filter-facts


Will I have cleaner air in my home by using a more efficient air filter?

Yes. Air filter efficiency is usually measured on the MERV rating system. The higher the MERV rating the smaller the particles your filter picks up. The more particles your filter is able to take out of the air entering your home that cleaner the air in your home is.

This doesn’t mean you should buy the filter that has the highest efficiency rating. The higher the efficiency rating usually the harder your system will have to work to push air through. You should strive to find a balance based on your own home environment.

For more information of air filter efficiency and MERV ratings see http://www.serviceexperts.ca/indoor-air-quality/remember-to-look-for-the-merv-rating-for-your-air-filter


Is a furnace filter washable or should it be replaced?

A furnace filter is not by default washable, but there are washable filters available. There are pros and cons of washable and disposable air filters and choosing one over the other can often come down to preference. Washable filters are more expensive that disposable ones and will eventually need to be replaced just like disposable ones- just not after the first use. Washable filters are very easy to clean and offer more convenience that disposable ones in that you don’t have to go out and buy them every 3-months. However, washable filters are not at the point yet that they are as good as high efficiency filters and usually only have a MERV rating between 1 – 4.

For more information on washable vs. disposable filters visit http://e-airllc.com/which-type-of-air-filter-is-better-reusable-or-disposable/


Is it necessary to buy a furnace filter from the company that manufactured the furnace?

No it is not necessary to continue buying filters from the company that made your furnace. While it might be a good idea, you may find that if your furnace is old the company has stopped making filters specifically for your furnace. The furnace company also might not have the latest technology integrated into their filters, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it. You just need to make sure that the filter fits and that your furnace can handle pushing air through it. That being said, you should check your furnace documentation if it’s available to see what the filter requirements are just to make sure.

For more on furnace filter changing see http://www.webproducts.com/furnace-filters-faq


How can one ensure buying the correct furnace filter suitable for a particular furnace model?

The best way to make sure your filter will work with your system is to check your furnace documentation. There should be a section dedicated to filter dimensions, requirements and recommendations on the types of filters that your furnace can handle. If you don’t have your furnace documentation on hand you can check the furnace company that made it as they often have digital copies of furnace documentation available. If that also doesn’t work then you can either measure the dimensions yourself, research how much power your furnace has in its fans and buy a filter that will work with the given fan power or talk with an HVAC technician for recommendations.

For more information on selecting and changing air filters visit https://www.furnacecompare.com/filters/