If you want your HVAC equipment to last for several years, one of the most important maintenance items to perform is changing your furnace filter on a regular basis. It’s a simple task but one that is often overlooked by homeowners.

A furnace filter’s job is to catch contaminants – including pet dander, allergens, dirt and dust – from entering your home’s air supply. But neglecting this easy chore can decrease the longevity of your HVAC system, not to mention create health issues for you and your family.

In this blog, the technicians at Hans Heating and Air discuss two different types of filters available – a disposable furnace air filter and a washable filter. We look at the pros and cons of each.

What Is a Disposable Furnace Filter?

Its name pretty much says it all. You can buy disposable filters at almost any grocery or big-box store. When it’s time to replace it, you simply throw it away and insert the new one. Most manufacturers require them to be replaced every 60 to 90 days. Not doing so could void your manufacturer’s warranty.

There are several types of disposable furnace air filters to choose from and each comes with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV rating, on it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, filters with a MERV Rating of 13 to 16 are designed to remove at least 50% of the small particles tested. Overall, they can eliminate up to 95% of indoor particles.

Although most homes use lower MERV rating fiberglass furnace filter that is 1-inch think, disposable filters can be bought with a varying degree of thickness from 1 to 5 inches.  HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filters can trap 99% of particles 0.3 microns or large. Review your manufacturer’s guidelines before choosing the right filter.

What’s a Washable Air Filter?

Washable air filters – which are also called electrostatic filters – cost more than disposable air filters up front but can save you money in the long run because you can use them over and over.

When it’s time to replace, you remove the washable filter and clean it before placing it back in again. There are a few different ways to clean a washable filter. You can vacuum the filter or clean the filter with the rinse method using a garden hose. For washable filters with a lot of grime, you can take dish soap and warm water and use a cloth to wipe both sides of the filter. When finished, you’ll need to rinse it thoroughly before replacing it.

As far as their performance, washable filters are fine at removing larger particles such as dust, but they do not remove bacteria, allergens, pet dander and viruses from the air. Their MERV rating is typically between 1 and 4.

Our Conclusion

Although there are pros and cons of both disposable and washable furnace air filters, we believe choosing a disposable, pleated air filter is the best choice for your home’s indoor air quality.

Washable filters can save you money over time, but for health reasons, and for the longevity of your HVAC equipment, we believe a disposable furnace filter is still the best option because of its high MERV ratings and ability to remove small particles.

Trust Hans with All of Your HVAC Needs

Don’t leave your indoor air quality to just anyone. Trust the technicians at Hans Heating and Air with all of your home’s HVAC needs. Contact us today so we can find out how to better assist you!