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Furnace Filters

May 23, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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Extend the life and increase the efficiency of your air conditioning and heating system through a simple task: change or clean the furnace filter

Common dollar priced furnace filters are built to filter out 75% of bulk dirt, however, they can trap fewer than 3% of small pollutants.

Treated filters are more advanced filters that cost under $10. These disposable filters are coated with glycol and mineral oil to help trap smaller particles. They prevent the same amount of bulk dirt from passing through the furnace and trap around 10% of the tiny airborne particles.

More effective filter models include: electronic furnace filters and electrostatic air filters. These filters work hand in hand with the air conditioning filter and rely on forced hot air. Unlike many types of furnace filter, electronic and electrostatic filters are permanent. Some electric units will drain electricity (increasing energy bills) to stay charged. Although these filters do not remove smoke effectively, some contain “HEPA-like” capabilities to siphon out particles as small as one micron in size. Costs run from $60- $400 for an entire electronic unit.

The three basic furnace filter choices are:

  1. Disposable fiberglass filters- These filters are the most cost effective and least efficient at filtration. With these filters, the furnace is protected from dirt and large dust but, pollen, mold, and other small particulates will easily penetrate the filter.
  2. Electrostatic filters- These washable filters rely on a static charge to attract particulate matter like dust and dirt. These filters are slightly better than disposable filters, but still retain a mere 15 to 20% of the smaller airborne particles.
  3. Pleated filters- This filter relies on pleating (increases the surface area of the filter) and a thicker mesh filter with enhanced ability to suspend particles. Pleated filters are 35-50 percent efficient and they are appreciated by allergy sufferers for the number of allergens (mold and pollen for example) they remove from the air.


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