Disposable vs. Reusable Air Filters

An air filter is designed to remove solid particles of dust, soot, pollen and bacteria from the air. However, consumers are faced with a number of options for selecting which to use. One of the first steps is deciding between a reuseable (washable) air filter or a disposable one. Filters improve the indoor air quality and keep the system’s parts clean. Deciding which type to install and use is usually up to the homeowner. Hence, it’s a good idea to understand a few basics.

Reusable air filters cost more up-front than disposable ones. If used and maintained properly, reusable filters can last several years and be an economic value.

Generally, disposable filters cost much less initially than reuseable filters. But they must be replaced regularly (once a month, usually). Plus, they come with the added expense of shipping charges if ordered online or the added expense of driving to the store to make the occasional purchase.

Air filters are rated according to their Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The higher the MERV number, the smaller the particles the filter collects. Reusable air filters generally have a MERV of around 1 to 4.  Disposable filters can have a MERV up to 16. So, it’s widely considered that disposable filters do a better job of collecting finer particles.

However, remember a high MERV means a tighter weave or denser filter. The denser and more efficient the filter, the harder the HVAC system works to pull air through the filter. This could translate into a higher electric bill and more strain on the unit.

It’s good to remember, too, that a lot of airborne material in a home never reaches the air filter. It lands on the floor or in the carpet. No HVAC filter will completely clean the air.

Use and Maintenance
The beauty of disposable air filters is that they can be replaced and thrown away with minimal disruption to the operation of the system. When it comes time to clean a reusable filter, the system must be shut down completely while the filter is cleaned with water and dried before replacing it to the return air duct.

Preventing Potential Filter Problems
Having a Residential Maintenance Agreement in place can help to ensure that your filter choice and maintenance is doing the job.  To stay up-to-date on the latest HVAC tips and savings, sign-up to receive our newsletter each month.  If you have any questions, please send me an email at shai@tempcontrolnj.wpengine.com or call at 732-218-8400.

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