During the cool and cold weather months of the year, many of us rely on the furnace in our home to keep us warm and comfortable. Yet most people do not put much thought into the care or maintenance of the furnace. This oversight can be a costly mistake, however, as a furnace that is not clean and well-maintained will be less effective, less energy efficient and may eventually break down, causing a huge headache and big repair costs.

Furnace Basics

One of the simplest and easiest ways to ensure that your furnace is operating at maximum efficiency is to inspect and clean or replace the air filter once every six months. The best way to do this is to schedule a regular maintenance checkup with a contractor like Bell Brothers. Part of a routine maintenance visit will include changing your air filter, cleaning the fan and blower motor, removing any debris or build up and performing a complete safety inspection.

Furnace Air Filters

Every furnace air filter comes with a rating called a MERV value. This stands for minimum efficiency reporting value and ranges between 1 and 16. If you look at most furnace air filters, the MERV rating is between 4 and 12. Traditional fiberglass air filters usually rate about 2, meaning that they filter out most large particles while keeping standard airflow through the furnace.

Typically, the more expensive the filter, the higher the MERV rating will be. For example, a moderately expensive filter with a MERV value of 4 will capture the majority of large particles but only a small percentage of the smaller particles. As such, the best furnace air filters are the ones that balance cost and efficiency as measured through the MERV rating. Depending on the age of your furnace an air filter that fits your size unit a MERV rating of 7 or 8 will ensure that almost all of the large particles passing through the filter catch as well as a good percentage of the smaller particles as well.

Note that if there is someone in the home with a weakened immune system or respiratory problems, a more expensive filter with a high-efficiency rating of MERV 11 or higher is probably worthwhile. This means that almost all particles, large and small, catch in the filter and stay out of the air passing into the home. Another important note is that high-efficiency filters may sound good at first, especially since we learn that high-efficiency is usually a good thing. While this is also true for air filters, there is a caveat – you will have to run your furnace fan constantly if you have a high-efficiency filter in place in order to get the benefit of the MERV rating. Running the furnace full time is obviously somewhat less energy efficient, so factor that into your considerations.

Ask Questions

If you are unsure about the right type of furnace air filter for you and your home or business or have any questions, contact Bell Brothers for further assistance. We can work with you to determine what air filter is best for your home and discuss your furnace’s maintenance needs.