One of the basic chores of maintaining a furnace is checking and replacing the air filter. Your furnace can’t heat your house efficiently if the air filter is all clogged up with debris, and you don’t want your family breathing dirty air. A good filter can protect you from indoor and outdoor dust, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, dust mite debris, various bacteria and smoke. Make sure to check or replace your air filter every two to three months, but don’t just buy the cheapest filter at the store or on Amazon. The quality of the air filter matters, for your health and for the health of your HVAC system. Here are eight recommendations for superior air filters.
But first, it’s good to know a bit about the different kinds of air filters, and the relevant terminology:
As described by the EPA, a HEPA filter is a type of pleated mechanical air filter. HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate air.” A HEPA filter should be able to remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. HEPA filters have gained attention recently for their ability to remove COVID-19 particles from air.
MERV stands for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.” It’s a measurement scale that tells you how well the product is at filtering out dust and debris from your HVAC system. The rating indicates the size of the particle that the filter will let through. For example, a filter with a 1 to 4 MERV rating will filter out particles like pollen, sawdust, carpet fibers, and dust mites. A filter with a MERV rating of 5-8 will keep out mold spores, dust mite debris, and dander. A filter rated 9 to 12 will remove fine dust, car emission particulates, and even nebulizer droplets. The highest MERV ratings are 12 to 16, and can filter out various bacteria, smoke, paint pigments, and droplets from sneezing and coughing. The drawbacks from the higher MERV ratings are 1) higher cost, and 2) more restricted airflow, which reduces efficiency.
FPR and MPR
Instead of a MERV rating, Home Depot uses an FPR rating. FPR stands for “Filter Performance Rating.” This uses a scale from 4 to 10, along with a color coding system. 3M filters display an MPR rating. MPR stands for “Micro Particle Performance Rating” and grades a filter on its ability to remove particles from 0.3 to 1 microns.
TYPES OF FILTER
Furnace filters are available in several types and materials. This includes disposable fiberglass, disposable pleated cotton or polyester, high-efficiency pleated synthetic cotton, disposable electrostatic, and reusable electrostatic. They’re also available in a wide variety of sizes, or in formats that can be trimmed for a custom fit.
Filtrete AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 1000, Micro Allergen Defense
A great overall filter with a MERV rating of 11. Excellent at capturing dust, pet dander, debris, lint, pollen, and smoke from the air.
Filtrete AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 1500, Healthy Living
Similar to the filter above, but with a MERV rating of 12. Filtrete uses exclusive 3-in-1 technology to trap lint, dust, pet dander, soot, pollen, and mold spores while encouraging fresh air to flow through the filter.
Honeywell Elite MERV 13 Allergen Pleated Air Filter
One of the best-rated and highest-reviewed furnace filters on the market. The Honeywell Elite Allergen Pleated filter has a high MERV rating of 13 (FPR 10), and can catch particles as small as 0.3 microns. Its frame is resistant to moisture and can improve life for allergy sufferers.
AIRx ALLERGY MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter
With a built-in HEPA filter and air purifier, this American made filter is good for allergy sufferers, but is a bit pricey and doesn’t filter out smoke.
FilterBuy MERV 8 Pleated AC Furnace Air Filter
With a lower MERV rating than the other filters on this list, this filter isn’t for the highly allergic, but it still does a good job filtering out debris and pet dander, and is more air-efficient than denser filters. It’s also a good value. It’s a little smaller than specified, so you may need to seal it into the furnace with a bit of tape or weather stripping if the fit is a little loose.
K&N Air Filter, MERV 11, Washable Air Filter
If you’re tired of throwing air filters in the trash, check out this permanent filter that can be used, washed and reused for years. And the MERV rating of 11 makes it suitable for allergy sufferers.
Arm & Hammer Enhanced Allergen and Odor Control Air Filter MERV 8
With a MERV rating of 8 and an FPR of 6, this filter is recommended for anyone seeking to reduce odors, since it captures odor-causing particles from pets, cooking, smog, and more. Instead of covering odors with scents, this unscented furnace filter traps particles in pleated filtration material to improve air quality.
True Blue Budget Washable Filter
The MERV rating for this filter is only 4 so this is definitely not for allergy sufferers, but this filter is washable, inexpensive and can last for 12 months is well-maintained. It can also be cut to fit odd size furnace filtration areas.
If you need professional maintenance or repair for your furnace, call the Allen team. Allen Service has been servicing Fort Collins, CO homes for over five decades. Owners and brothers, Mike and Jeff Allen are the third generation of the Allen family to run the business. They carry out the tradition of delivering excellent customer service and high-quality parts for all plumbing, heating, and air conditioning projects to your home. When you work with Allen Service, you are working with the best!