The average person breathes in about 32,000 pints (18,185 liters) of air every day? Those 32,000 pints contain about 1,120,000,000 particles of dust and most of those particles are 3 microns or smaller in size.According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. This can be a big problem if you suffer from allergies.
There are a number of things that affect indoor air quality but here we want to focus on furnace filters because there is a lot of misinformation on the topic and an efficient filter is an important part of any strategy to improve indoor air quality.
Clean air is something we all need for a healthy home environment. The goal of this site is to provide you with information that will help determine which filter best meets the needs of you and your family.
What Are Your Options?
There are many types of air conditioner filters and furnace filters to choose from and efficiencies, designs and quality vary greatly. Based on my twenty years experience in the (HVAC) heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry there are basically six types of air filter to choose from.
Some are very efficient and reliable, while others provide less than desirable results. Also keep in mind that generic brands are often as good as some of the more popular brands such as Filtrete, Honeywell, Trion, 3M and Purolator.
There is really no best air filter because each type serves a purpose, but which one is best for you, really depends on your individual needs. The links below will take you to articles about the types listed. Each type has its positive and negative characteristics and the articles on those pages were written to help highlight those differences.
Brand name is probably the least important thing to consider in your buying decision and most brands are interchangeable. If you are ordering replacement air filters you only need to know the dimensions of the filter you are replacing (Length, Width and Thickness). Often custom size filters are required due the a wide range of factors and unfortunately, you can’t buy custom sized filters at your local hardware store but they are available online and can be ordered from your local contractor.
If you are replacing any of the frame type or panel filters with a pleated or electrostatic type you need to know the dimensions of the frame in order to select the proper size replacement. If you are looking for new media pads to install in an existing frame then the same rule applies. Length, Width and Thickness are the measurements that you need to know. With this information any online or retail store will be able to provide you with what you want.
Standard Furnace Filter Size Measurements
Usually these dimensions are not exact. For example a 20x20x1 filter will actually measure 19.5×19.5x¾. When you order or pick up your new one the dimensions you will ask for will be 20x20x1. This difference between standard size measurements and actual size measurements allows for variations in filter rack sizes and also ensures that the filter will fit into a standard size filter rack.
Other Considerations Before You Decide
Pleated furnace filters are probably the most popular. They provide the best value for your money and are available in a wide range of efficiencies and design characteristics. Some are made with charcoal or carbon impinged fibers manufactured into the filter material to help with odor control. Others have electrostatic characteristics to help increase performance.
Electrostatic filters offer the best value when it comes to reusable filters and the best of these will have a lifetime guaranty.
To keep your electronic or electrostatic filter performing at maximum efficiency requires regular cleaning. Filter maintenance (changing or cleaning) also helps to keep your heating and cooling equipment operating at maximum efficiency which reduces operating costs.
A disposable or reusable filter that is left in an air conditioning or heating system for extended periods of time without proper maintenance will reduce equipment operating efficiency and can reduce airflow to the point of causing costly equipment breakdowns.
Some of these filters such as throw away fiberglass types are not very efficient and will only trap the largest of dust particles, while others such as the electrostatic and HEPA filters will remove over 97 percent of household allergens from the air that passes through them.
It is important to keep in mind that when shopping for a new air filter, discount filters (fiberglass panel) are not a real bargain. You save on the cost of the filter but pay more for maintenance and operating costs in the end. It is best to shop for efficiency and quality.
Other Things That Will Help Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are some other things you may want to consider if you really want the best air quality you can possibly have in your home.
These other things to consider are:
- UV Air Cleaners
- Home Ventilation
Ultra Violet Sterilizers, often referred to as UV air purifiers, are sometimes used with standard furnace filters to kill bacteria in the air. These units are mounted in your duct system and kill bacteria as they pass through the light emitted from the purifier. It’s important that this equipment be installed correctly for maximum safety and efficiency. These air purifiers provides an extra level of air treatment to improve indoor air quality.
To help reduce infiltration of airborne particles from outside, maintain the filters in your home ventilation equipment also. These residential heat recovery ventilator and air exchanger filters are usually washable foam media and should be replaced when they begin to deteriorate. Some of these units have HEPA filters and are extremely efficient.