On those nights when the temperature drops suddenly, a furnace can seem like a gift from above. Heating, though sometimes underrated in Las Vegas, is a big part of your home. So shouldn’t you make sure it has the care and maintenance it needs to function properly?
One of those care steps is a furnace filter. This square of paper or fiberglass collects the dust and contaminants being pulled into your system. This keeps your furnace clean and running smoothly, when it would, otherwise, get dirty, clogged, and break down from build-up.
There are multiple types of furnace filters out there, so we here at AC Repair Las Vegas have the basic rundown on all things filters. From type to MERV rating (we’ll explain those in a moment), we’ll help you pick the best filter for your needs. And, as an added bonus, we’ll also explain the basics of replacing the filters yourself like a pro.
What are Merv ratings?
If you’ve ever been shopping for a furnace filter, you may have seen something called a MERV rating. This stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating is on a scale of 1-16 and indicates what particles the filter can intercept. The higher the number, the more particles the filter can collect.
For example, a filter with a MERV rating of 1 will only get the basics such as carpet fibers or pollen. Meanwhile, a MERV rating of 16 means the filter can collect tobacco smoke and virtually all bacteria
Now, while you may think the higher the number the better, a middle ground is actually best. If the number is too high, air flow is restricted and your system has to work extra hard to take in air and heat it. This can lead to higher operating costs and, eventually, a broken furnace.
So why do MERV 16 filters exist? Commercial health facilities like hospitals will use furnace filters like this. But they also have commercial, heavy duty furnaces that can handle it. For a residential property, such as your home, a MERV rating of 8-11 will suffice. Be sure to check your furnace safety guidelines, however, as some systems come with a maximum MERV rating that can be safely accommodated.
What are the different types of Furnace Filters?
It can be overwhelming when you walk down the store aisle and there seem to be more filter options than you ever need. But there are pros and cons to all furnace filters and it’s up to you to decide which factors matter most to you. Here’s a helpful breakdown of the three most common filter styles you’ll encounter.
- Pleated – generally made from paper and/or polyester, this is the standard of all furnace filters. It’s not the most expensive, nor the cheapest and it’s not the best or the worst in quality. This is a safe option and there’s easy access to any size you may need. It should be checked monthly for any major blockage issues, but tends to only need replacing every three months.
- Fiberglass – if you simply want the cheapest option on the market to keep your furnace going, fiberglass is the choice for you. They tend to rip easily and are low scorers when it comes to MERV ratings, so you’ll want to replace it every month or so. But it’ll only run you a few dollars at most, so that’s a benefit.
- Reusable – homeowners willing to make an investment in their furnace system will love reusable filters. You can wash or vacuum these durable filters and are high quality. If you clean the filters every three months or so, you can keep your filter alive for a solid five years. In the long run, you’ll save money and have a smoother running furnace.
As you can see, there are options for the strict budgeters, the upfront investors, and the inbetweeners. So whichever you are, there’s a good filter match for you. Of course, there are other styles out there, including electrostatic, but not all heating systems can handle these filters. So check your system before you head to the store.
How do I install a Furnace filter?
You finally have your new filter picked out and it’s time to replace the old. Here’s the step by step to make the process as simple as possible. If you find you’re still uncomfortable with changing the filter, our techs will be more than happy to assist you and show you in person as well!
For Pleated and Fiberglass Filters
- Turn off your furnace system. You don’t want it attempting to heat up while you’re working on the filter.
- Locate the old filter and slide it out. You’ll want a garbage bag or bin beside you as the filter will be gunky depending on when it was last changed.
- If the floor now has dust and grime on it, or the area around the filter slot is extra dusty, take this chance to dust and vacuum while the system is off.
- Take the new filter and locate the little arrow on it. Point this arrow toward the furnace and slide the new filter into place.
- Close the door on the system and turn in back on!
For Reusable Filters:
- Turn off your furnace system, just like with other filter types. Better safe than sorry.
- Find your reusable filter and slide it out. Depending on which filter brand you are using, you can either vacuum or wash it with water to clean it.
- Take this time to vacuum the floor and dust around the filter slot to keep your system nice and clean.
- Make sure you reusable filter is completely dry before placing it back into the slot, turning it so the arrow is facing the furnace’s direction.
- Close the door and enjoy the heat!
Changing your furnace filter does not need to be a scary endeavor. If you found this information helpful, share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms so they too can become experts of their furnace. And if you have some helpful tips or tricks, comment below!