The Importance of Always Using the Right Filter for Your Furnace

The filter is one of the most important parts of your furnace. It catches dust and debris, so grime doesn’t clog your furnace or harm your air quality. You need to change your furnace filter regularly to get the best results. Though this is a fairly simple maintenance task, finding the right type of filter can take a little time. Making an effort to select a good filter is certainly worth it. The wrong filter can have adverse consequences for your heating system and negatively impact the indoor air quality in your home.

Oversized or Undersized Filters Can Lead to Impaired Efficiency

When selecting filters, the first thing you’ll need to pay attention to is the furnace filter size. The size of a filter affects whether or not the filter fits into the furnace correctly. If it’s too small, you can get gaps around the edge. If it’s too large, it might not fit in the space without bending.

Either sizing mistake is a problem. Furnaces are complex systems that are designed to work with specific components. An undersized filter allows air to rush through without being treated. Any air that bypasses the filter can contain dirt and debris that might clog up your furnace mechanisms. On the other hand, if your filter is too large, it can be difficult to slot it in place and close the access panel properly.

Improperly sized filters will cause your furnace to work harder. Even if you don’t end up with any damage to your system, you’ll still be running it longer and using more energy. This can lead to unpleasantly high utility bills.

How to Find the Right Size Filter for Your Furnace

There are a few different ways to figure out what size of filter you need for your furnace. If your furnace already has a filter that fits well, take a close look at it. The filter will have its dimensions written somewhere on the frame, so you can pick another in the same size.

If your furnace doesn’t have a properly sized filter in it, try checking the panel that supports the filter. Many furnace models will have the dimensions of the size of the filter required for optimal performance written somewhere on the unit. If it doesn’t mention the dimensions, you can check your owner’s manual. This manual will tell you what size of filter to get.

If you can’t find details anywhere else, you can find the right size by measuring your furnace. Open the access panel and use a tape measure to see the dimensions of the filter slot. Aim to get a filter that is around a quarter of an inch smaller than the slot. This ensures that it has enough clearance to slide into place but will still fit snuggly enough. If you are still unsure of what size filter to purchase, give us a call at Quality Air Of America so we can help you out.

Incorrect Filter Performance Ratings Can Damage Your System

In addition to filter size, you also need to consider filter performance. This is a rating that measures how good the furnace is at capturing particles. There are many different styles of performance ratings. Some common ones include filter performance rating (FPR), microparticle performance rating (MPR), and minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). A lower rating means the filter lets more particles through, while a higher rating means it traps more debris.

Unlike filter size, you have some leeway when selecting a performance rating. Most furnaces are designed to work within a range of ratings. They will usually have a recommended MERV maximum and MERV minimum. Going outside of this range may result in a variety of issues.

If you pick too low of a MERV rating, a lot of extra particles will end up in your heating system. This dust and debris will coat the interior of your furnace, making it operate less efficiently. Over time, they can also clog furnace mechanisms and cause your furnace to break down. However, installing a filter with too high of a MERV rating can also be a problem. The higher the rating, the more force is needed to pull air through the filter. If you go too high, your furnace blower will struggle to circulate air through your system.

How to Pick a MERV Rating for Your Furnace

Finding the right MERV rating starts with taking a close look at your owner’s manual. Your manual will usually have a maximum recommended rating that you shouldn’t exceed. However, even if you follow manufacturer recommendations, there will be a huge range of MERV ratings to choose from.

For some people, their choice is a matter of budget. Higher MERV ratings mean higher costs for filters. Therefore, some people may want to choose a lower MERV rating to fit their budget. Hypothetically, a much lower MERV rating could reduce the amount of energy needed to move air through your system, so it could also lower your utility bills. However, the savings on furnace fuel are minimal, and a low MERV rating could cause problems elsewhere.

In most cases, a MERV rating of at least five is a good idea. A filter with a MERV rating of five or higher will catch everything from dust to pet dander. This improves your air quality and keeps gunk from clogging up your furnace components. If you have any concerns about indoor air quality, it may be worthwhile to go even higher. To catch things like mold spores and aerosol particles, you need a MERV rating of around 8. Most residential systems don’t go above a MERV of 8 or 9, but in general, you can go as high as your manual recommends.

Does Filter Type Matter?

Filter size and efficiency ratings are usually the most important things to consider, but it’s also worth keeping filter type in mind. Filters come in a variety of materials and designs. The most common are flat, fiberglass filters, washable filters, pleated disposable filters, and electrostatic filters. All of these filters have their own pros and cons.

Fiberglass filters are very affordable but don’t filter out smaller particles. Washable filters can be eco-friendly, but maintenance can be challenging. Pleated disposable filters are often affordable and effective, but they require regular replacement to work properly. Like washable filters, electrostatic filters are eco-friendly and affordable, but they don’t filter out as many particles. Ultimately, furnaces are usually designed to operate with a variety of filters, so you can usually pick from whatever type you prefer. As long as a filter fits your size and MERV requirements, it can work well. Just make sure to check your manual because some furnaces may need specific designs.

Contact the Professionals

If you have any questions about the right furnace filter, Quality Air Of America can help. Our team is happy to inspect your furnace and provide recommendations on the right sort of filter. We also help with a variety of other HVAC services in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area. You can count on us for heating and cooling repairs, maintenance services, and installations. In addition, we also offer indoor air quality, ductwork, and attic insulation services. To learn more about our services or schedule an appointment, call Quality Air Of America today.

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