Some people just can’t remember the filter. With a busy lifestyle, the work of replacing the furnace filter every month or two slips their minds. But for those who don’t want to buy filter after filter, there’s a long-term option available. Here’s what to know about washable filters.
They’re Built To Last
In relation to disposable filters, you could make the case for referring to washable furnace filters as “permanent filters.” Of course, even a washable filter will need replacement at some point, but the lifespan of the average washable filter is about ten years, compared to a disposable filter that lasts only 30 to 90 days. As you would expect, you’ll pay more upfront for a washable filter, but once you’ve done so, you’ll save big and will have one fewer thing to think about as you put together your shopping lists.
Remember To Wash the Filter
Of course, one thing you will have to think about with a washable filter is washing it. Unlike disposable filters that you simply throw away and replace, washable filters require some maintenance on your part in order to function well. Washing your filter isn’t difficult; it’s simply a little time-consuming and specific as to when you do the job. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you don’t mind the furnace being out of commission while you wash and dry the filter. Don’t expect your furnace’s heat to sufficiently dry a damp filter—in that instance, all you can expect is rampant mold growth.
Every comparison comes down to positives and negatives, and the negatives of washable filters may be prohibitive for your situation. The measure of an air filter is its Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV. A filter’s MERV will rank on a scale of 1 to 16, with 1 being the lowest level of filtration and 16 being the highest. Household air filters generally don’t go beyond 12, with higher rankings more prevalent in industrial settings. Most washable filters on the market are rated between 1 and 4, occupying the lower quartile of the scale. If you live in a smoke-free, pet-free, and allergy-free household that doesn’t generate a lot of dust, the lower long-term cost and the lower efficiency of a washable filter may be right for your situation. These conditions, however, don’t describe most people’s living conditions. If there’s a person in your house with allergies, you will need a filter with a higher MERV rating, and if pets are also in the equation, you may have to go as high as MERV 11.
So, which is right: disposable or washable? If you’ve read over what to know about washable filters and have determined that you satisfy the narrow requirements of a low-efficiency filter, you may want to move forward with the “permanent” option. But if air filtration is a major concern for you and your family, or if you simply don’t want to wash and dry a filter, it’s best to stick to fresh filters such as those from the AAF Flanders filter collection.