What You Should Know About Washable Furnace Filters

When it comes to furnace filters, there are many on the market today. However, it can be a huge challenge to decide which kind to buy.  What kind is the best? Do the Electrostatic kind of furnace filters really work? Let’s examine these questions, and more.

Do Electrostatic Furnace Filters Really Work?

a photo of an electrostatic air filter for a furnaceThe short answer to this question is a resounding “Yes”. However, not everyone likes them. It does take some effort to remove, clean and reinstall them. If you’re tired of spending several hundred dollars per year on washable air filters for your furnace, you may wish to explore the electrostatic furnace filter. You can readily find these online for under $100 and in most cases, under $50.

Imagine not having to buy a new one each month. Imagine simply washing your furnace filter monthly or even weekly if you wish. Your home will be cleaner and you’re going to have a lot better health.  Plus this type of air filter is environmentally friendly, so you’re not adding to the garbage landfill.

Anyone who suffers from severe allergies or asthma will appreciate a clean furnace filter. Since these are washable you can clean them more frequently. It’s better than replacing them, you will be in full control of the chemicals that are used and you’ll have a permanent filter that works well for your needs.

What Kind Of Washable Electrostatic Air Filters Are The Best?

There are a variety of furnace air filters on the market today. You’ll appreciate the ease of installation of a permanent air filter for your furnace. You may have a hard time believing that a permanent furnace filter will do the trick. However, these are designed to be easily installed, removed, washed and reinstalled.

Dust and debris will get caught up in the filter just as it does in any furnace filter. Instead of having to replace these, you will simply take them out and wash them. You can easily wash these in the shower, a laundry sink, the tub, wherever you have water. It’s really simple and it doesn’t take any special skills. You can also wash them with the garden hose out in the yard. You’re in control of when, where and how often you wash your furnace filter.

How Do Electrostatic Air Filters Work?

a drawing of how electrostatic furnace filters workA furnace filter is designed to work by filtering the air that circulates throughout your home. As the air is drawn into the return vents and ducts, it goes through the filter to remove the dust, debris and any other airborne particles before the air is conditioned by your HVAC system. The air filter is meant to protect both the mechanical components of your furnace and the indoor air quality of your home from airborne particles.  Electrostatic air filters work by relying on multiple layers of filtration media which clean the air as it passes through the filter. Here, the dust particles are charged by the action of friction between the air that is being taken into the furnace, and the woven polypropylene (manufactured with inherent electrostatic properties) air filter media.

As these airborne particles pass through the media, they are positively charged and will quickly attach themselves to the next several layers of the electrostatic filter much like static can build up on your stocking feet as you walk across a carpet. This action helps to filter out the contaminants and clean the air before it is released into your home. This action will prevent these dust particles from entering your home and give you cleaner air and a cleaner home.

The air quality will be fresher and cleaner as will your home. You’ll have less dusting and vacuuming to do thanks to your furnace filter working hard to filter such things out of your furnace before they ever reach your interior.  For the best results, switch your recirculating fan on your thermostat to ON for continuous cleaning.

Pros And Cons Of Electrostatic Furnace Filters

Pros

  • You don’t have to buy replacement filters.
  • Washable furnace filters are environmentally friendly.
  • You’re in charge of how often they are cleaned.
  • These electrostatic furnace filters are reasonably priced.
  • These are readily available online in custom and standard sizes.
  • Electrostatic air filters are much more effective then standard disposable filters.

Cons

  • You may have to pay more at the outset.
  • You’ll want to make sure exactly how to wash them to preserve them properly.
  • You’ll order them online and have to wait for them to arrive.
  • Some finer dust particles may be able to escape the process.
  • They’re not HEPA filters or electronic air cleaners, and don’t work in the same fashion.
  • You’ll have to take the time to clean them.
  • It can take up to 20 minutes to properly clean them in lieu of simply swapping out filters.
  • Some electrostatic filters don’t allow for as much free air flow as standard disposable filters do which may cause your furnace to work harder.

How Do I Know Electrostatic Furnace Air Filters Work?

a photo of a residential furnace filterThis will be dependent upon a few factors.  It can depend on the dust levels outside of your home and how they affect your air quality. Every time you open and close your front door, dust and debris will enter.  You may have to wash them more frequently if you live on a dirt road or an area that has high dust levels.  Pet owners find their homes contain more dust and animal dander.  Individual hobbies and lifestyle habits can also generate additional airborne contaminants. If you leave your recirculating fan set on AUTO, your HVAC system runs only when your thermostat setting requires heat or air conditioning.  If your ventilation system is not running, your furnace filter is not working. For best results your fan setting should be ON, for continuous whole house air cleaning.

How Expensive Are Washable Furnace Filters?

You can find washable furnace filters online for anywhere from about $30 upwards to about $100. You’ll also want to factor in shipping and handling unless you find some that are shipped for free. Sometimes you can find a great sale as well. Keep in mind that this is a one-time expense vs replacing your furnace filter on a monthly basis so it’s still a good deal even if it does seem a bit high at the outset.

Are All Washable Filters Multi-Stage?

No, most of the washable filters are made up of stacked layers of various filtration media with metal or plastic support.  As the air and contaminants pass through the media, dirt can be collected in or on the woven electrostatic media, metal mesh and/or impingement style polyester or foam media. Higher quality electrostatic furnace filters are constructed with multi-stage filter panels that keep the air filter from face loading with dirt, which can restrict the air flow of the HVAC system.  Multi-stage filter panels, with strategically placed drain holes in the frame, also allow for thorough cleaning.

residential air filter for a furnace (photo)Will I Ever Have To Replace My Filter?

Many people have had such washable filters for more then ten years. The only reason you’ll ever have to replace it is if you find a better one or if you choose to do so. Of course, there is normal wear and tear on anything. Most washable filters last for at least ten years so you should be just fine if you plan accordingly and take gentle care of your washable filter when you wash it.  Most washable electrostatic furnace filters come with a Lifetime Warranty against manufacturing defects.

Do I Need Anything Special To Wash My New Filter?

No, you can use plain water, or if you prefer, you can use a mild detergent such as a grease-cutting dish soap or spray on cleaner on either side of your filter. Rinse well (until no detergent is coming out of your filter) and shake off excess water.  You can allow it to air dry (turning your HVAC system off during this time) or reinstall it into the system and the air flow will dry it. It’s that simple. You don’t need any special equipment and you don’t have to use any specialized chemicals to clean your filter.

Where to Buy Furnace Filters Online?

You can go to an allergy supply or DIY site or you can go to the typical online shopping networks and find washable furnace filters. Pricing  varies on all of the sites dependent on the type of furnace filter however, you’ll want to look at a few of them before you buy as some will charge a bit more for shipping than others. Keep in mind that some will also have longer shipping times as well so you’ll want to make sure that you’re factoring all of this into your order.

different types of available furnace air filtersDo I Need Measurements Prior To Ordering?

Yes, you’ll want to measure your old filter and find the one that will fit properly. Keep in mind that the industry standard for disposable filters has historically been undercut by  1/4″ to 1/2″, making it a NOMINAL size.  This means when you grab a 16″ X 25″ disposable filter off the rack at your local hardware store, it could be closer to 15.5″ X 24.5″.  In most cases, you should be able to use the closest standard size. Washable electrostatic furnace filters have a solid rigid metal or plastic frame.  So you may need to order an EXACT size to make sure it slides in and out of the filter track smoothly.  You may want to measure the duct opening using a flashlight and a stiff tape measure. Look inside the section of the furnace where the filter should be located. You should have a 1″ filter track or opening where the filter slides into. Measure the height and width of the duct opening. You can also contact customer service and they will help you to determine which filter size you should order for your specific furnace. Always double and triple check so that you get the proper size of furnace filter when you order. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for the right size when you’ve received a wrong size.

 

 

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