Types of Residential Furnace Filters - Advantages and Disadvantages

May 2 2012

Furnace filters were originally intended to protect the inner workings of the furnace itself by keeping excess dust and debris from collecting on the fans and in the ducts. A Buildup of dust and other particles in the furnace and ductwork reduces the efficiency of the furnace and will eventually ruin the furnace. Today, while protecting the furnace and ducts is still an important function of the furnace filters, they also serve to keep many allergens, pollution and dust out of the air in the home.

There are several different types of furnace filters on the market today and technological advances have allowed them to become very effective at keeping the air in our homes clean. Of the several different types of filters, some are disposable, some are washable, and they all vary in effectiveness.

Panel Filters are the old-fashioned fiberglass filters that we are used to from days gone by. They are still in use today. The advantage of these filters is that they are very inexpensive, they are easy to change and they generally fit all furnaces. Pleated FiltersThe disadvantage is that you need to replace them frequently and they are not washable or reusable. They also do not filter much out of the air – they are mainly just to protect the furnace.

Pleated Filters are actually cost-effective as well as efficient in purifying the air entering your home. They are designed in a way that ensures optimum airborne dirt and dust capture and minimum sagging in humid environments. They are similar to panel filters, but they have pleats that increase the surface area of the filter allowing more air particles and pollutant to be trapped. The advantage over the panel filters is that they last a bit longer, but they still need to be replaced fairly often.

Carbon FilterActivated Carbon Filters are also considered pleated ac filters and are effective in eliminating cigarette smoke, pet odors, cooking odors, and along with a large number of additional objectionable odors. . As opposed to masking the foul smells in your home, carbon filters act like a sponge that absorbs odors in your home and are held hostage in millions of tiny carbon pores. This type of filter is ideal if odor control is certainly one of your main air quality concerns.

Electrostatic Filters are charged with static electricity, allowing them to draw tiny particles into the filter. These filters are more effective at cleaning the air than the panel or pleated types and they do filter out much smaller particles. Another advantage is that they are often washable, so they can be reused many times, reducing replacement costs greatly. This type of filter would be a sensible choice for individuals who don’t what to deal with the hassle of replacing their filters.

High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters (HEPA filters) are the best of the best when it comes to filters. They are capable of removing up to 99% of the particles in the air, making them ideal for allergy sufferers or people with respiratory problems. HEPA filters were originally designed to be used in hospital, aerospace, laboratory, food processing facilities, but have grown in popularity and are now available to be used in residential systems. The only disadvantages are that they are more expensive than the other types and they do not fit all furnaces, so a separate unit may be required.

The choice of filter for your furnace really depends on your personal needs. If you require a high-efficiency air cleaner, you will do best with a HEPA filter, whereas if you just want to keep the furnace working properly, a pleated or panel filter may be fine for you.

About the Author
Stephanie is a blogger and home improvements expert working for Filters Plus Inc, FiltersPlus.com is an online retailer that sells the finest selection of air filters!

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