Washable Air Filters: What You Need to Know

Washable Air Filters: What You Need to KnowFor all their convenience and reusability, in the end, using washable air filters may end up costing you more in time and money than disposable filters do. The primary purpose of filters for your HVAC system is to keep airborne particulates out of the air handler or blower compartment.

Clean filters go a long way toward keeping the components clean, and some filters do it better than others. When you’re choosing filter replacements, you’ve probably noticed their labels that either give a number or a phrase, like good, better and best.

Numbers indicate the filter’s MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. Filters rated between 1 and 4 are minimally effective at stopping airborne particulates, while those that reach 16 will trap nearly every particle found in residential air.

Inexpensive fiberglass filters have MERV ratings that range from 1 to 4, which means they don’t trap too much dust, pollen, dander and other small particulates. Most washable air filters have the same ratings. Using them over a period of time could result in dust deposits inside the air handler, which can drive up energy costs and force component replacements prematurely.

Besides allowing dust inside the air handler, reusable filters with low ratings can:

  • Cause mold, bacterial, or fungus growth in the filter if you replace it while it’s still damp. If they start to grow, the spores will blow throughout your home via the ductwork each time the system runs.
  • Increase discomfort for people with allergies or asthma. Filters whose MERV rating ranges from 5 to 8 trap far more airborne particulates like dust mite waste, pollen and mold spores, improving indoor air quality (IAQ).
  • Complicate filter maintenance. Washable filters need time to dry, since it’s a bad idea to install them damp. While it dries, you won’t be able to run your system.

The right filters protect your health and that of your HVAC system, which is why we, and most HVAC contractors, prefer disposable instead of washable air filters. To learn more, contact Cool Power, LLC, providing HVAC services for Long Island homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hauppauge, New York and the Long Island area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about washable air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 631-292-0629.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Sonia Sorbi”