How to Pick Out the Right Air Filter for Your Furnace

As the temperature drops, you may have already brought out winter items such as coats, gloves, hats, and blankets. While prepping for the cold days ahead, one thing you shouldn’t forget about is putting a fresh air filter in your furnace.

If you’ve looked at purchasing a new air filter at a home improvement store, you have noticed there are many products available. So how do you know what one is the best option? In this article, we’ll cover the two most important details to consider

Benefits of replacing the furnace filter

Swapping out the filter is one of the easiest and most important maintenance tasks for your heating system. The filter prevents dust, dirty, and other small particles from passing through the unit as well as from being redistributed throughout the home. Over time, the filter can get clogged with the particles it collects, which can disrupt the airflow. This makes the furnace work harder than it should to push air through, can and lead to mechanical breakdowns.

Sizes and dimensions of air filters

Furnace air filters come in a wide range of sizes. The dimensions are measured by length, width, and depth. It’s important that you get a filter that matches the length and width of the filter compartment of your furnace. If there are large gaps around the edges due to an improperly sized filter, then unfiltered air will easily get through. We recommend getting as thick of a filter as possible that will fit in the component. A deeper filter will have more surface area to catch particles, and will also last longer.

We should note that the actual measurement of filters will be slightly smaller (1/4 to ½ inch, in most cases) than the labeled size. This is so the product easily fits in the furnace compartment.

MERV rating

In addition to the size dimensions, you’ll also find a number that relates to the filter’s MERV rating, which ranges between 1-20. MERV is short for minimum efficiency rating value, and tells how tight the filter material is woven. This also indicates the types and size of particles the filter is designed to catch. Basically, the higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles the filter can capture.

Most air filters made for homes are MERV 5 through 13. If you have allergies, medical issues, or pets, you may want to go with a higher MERV rating. However, higher doesn’t always mean better, as filters with high MERV ratings can be more expensive and use more energy.

Once you’ve identified the ideal size and MERV rating for your home’s need, all that’s left is to purchase the air filter and insert it in the furnace. Make a note of the recommended replacement schedule on the packaging, so you can keep with this easy furnace maintenance.

Professional furnace inspection and maintenance in Fredericksburg, Stafford and King George Counties

Regularly replacing the filter can go a long way in maximizing the performance and service life of your furnace. Of course, it’s not the only maintenance task you should stay on top of. Now is a great time to schedule a furnace inspection and tune-up to make sure your system is ready for the winter season. To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced HVAC technicians, send us a message or call (540) 373-5876.