The number one maintenance task on your HVAC unit and your furnace to extend the life of your unit, keep the air clean, and improve overall efficiency is changing your filters. For people who are more environmentally conscious, throwing filters away every couple of months may seem like an extraordinary waste. Luckily, there is an alternative to disposable filters: washable filters. Washable air filters not only cut back on waste but they are also a much more economical option for most households.
Advantages of Washable Filters
Save money – The upfront cost of washable filters is pricier compared with disposable filters, but with proper care a washable filter can last five years or more. Since it is recommended you change your filters every 3 months, washable filters pay for themselves quickly. A single washable filter will typically replace about 50 disposable filters. If you’re spending an average of $10.00 per disposable filter, you can see the benefit in savings by using a washable filter.
No more forgetting to buy a new filter – With washable filters, gone are the days of needing to stock up ahead of time or running to the store every couple months to buy another filter. For households who are limited on storage space, washable filters present a great benefit!
Less waste – All that fiberglass, cardboard, and metal that you normally throw away in your filter each month are saved from going to the landfill. This is good because fiberglass does not break down like the cardboard will. And the metal components of traditional, disposable filters typically don’t get separated out at the landfill due to time restraints. Just imagine the impact if everyone used a washable filter! Using washable filters diverts a lot waste.
That said, there are several drawbacks to using washable filters that may outweigh the advantages.
Disadvantages of Washable Filters
Consistent Maintenance – Usually when it comes time to replace your filter, you simply pull out the used one, unwrap the plastic from the new one, and set it in place. Done! In contrast, a washable filter must be removed from the intake and sprayed down to remove and dislodge the trapped dust and debris. Make sure to turn off your furnace or HVAC unit before you remove the filter so you’re not pulling contaminated air through your system. Although the cleaning process is not a very time-consuming task, it can get old after a while. Plus, all that dust needs to be contained so typically doing this outside is recommended. Once you spray it down, the washable filter must then be left to completely dry before it can be reinstalled and your unit can be turned on again. Some users of washable filters will have an extra reusable filter on hand to avoid a long period of down time.
Lower MERV ratings – Washable filters are not as efficient at removing microscopic particles and allergens from the air. Washable filters are available with MERV ratings up to eight or nine, while disposable filters are readily available up to MERV 16. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller particle it will trap including dust mites, smoke, and other pollutants. So, overall your options are more limited with washable filters and air quality goals.
Susceptible to mold and mildew – If you lose your patience on the dry team after cleaning, washable filters can quickly become infested with mold and mildew. This can absolutely negatively affect your indoor air quality, defeating the main purpose of using a filter!
When it comes down to it, the savings and reduced waste may outweigh the negative factors of having a washable filter for your furnace or HVAC system.
If you’re struggling to make a decision, reach out to our team at South Nashville HVAC and we will be happy to speak with you about air filtration and indoor air quality needs. It is always recommended that you speak with a professional HVAC company before installing specialty filters in your system. It is possible to damage your system in attempts to upgrade your filtration. Contact us at 615-834-1636 or send us a message through the form below.
As always, we look forward to serving you!