As we venture into the scorching hot summer months once again, most people will be seeking shelter from the heat, especially after long days of fun in the sun. However, once inside, most people will be trading the fresh, clean, outside air for contaminated, potentially harmful indoor air. The EPA has stated that between sleeping at home, putting in a full shift at work, going to the gym, and everything else going on in our lives, we spend about 90 percent of our time inside. The question everyone should be asking themselves is whether or not their home air filter is right for them. Whether you choose washable air filters or disposable filters, the fact is it must be a high-quality filter.
According to mana.md, inside air pollution levels, are 2-5 times higher than the air outside. In some cases, these levels can reach up to 100 times more! The nasty particles traveling through your home HVAC systems are supposed to be purified by utilizing high-quality filters in your system. Still, many are not aware of the health complications that could arise from using low-quality filters. Poor indoor air quality can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions such as heart/lung disease, asthma, and other respiratory issues. Many of these particles also worsen allergies, transmit diseases such as the coronavirus, and spread mold spores throughout homes and offices.
Which Type of Air Filter is Right for My Home?
Now, before you rush to the hardware store to upgrade your home’s filters, you need to stop and ask yourself, “Which filter is right for me?” There are tons of filters to choose from in today’s market, and choosing the right one can be challenging. Below, we will compare a few of the main categories of filters available to consumers and provide a brief overview of the filters we offer here at Filti.
Traditional Disposable Filters
The first step in determining which filter to choose is determining whether you are looking for a disposable filter or a reusable/washable filter. Regardless of which one you choose, your filter should have a relatively high MERV rating. There are many different rating systems in use that categorize the industry’s products, but we will use the MERV system for now for the sake of simplicity. Be sure not to choose a filter with too high of a rating, as these filters typically restrict airflow more than lower quality ones. Remember, not all filters and systems are created equal! Restrictive airflow can cause harm to your system and could lead to expensive repairs in the future.
One of the most common types of filters is the traditional, disposable filter. This filter can either have a flat-panel design or a pleated one. Fiberglass flat-panel filters are usually the most cost-effective option. However, this also means that they are of lower quality and will let most of the particles through the screen.
Disposable filters are excellent because you can shove one into your system and forget about it for 2-3 months until it is time to switch them out. However, this means that you not only have to remember to change out your filters at this time, but you have to make a trip to the store to stock up or order more online. This process can be inconvenient and costly, especially if your home or office requires more than one or two filters to function correctly.
Once the filters have done their job and it is time to throw them out, they contribute much more plastic waste than their reusable counterparts, especially since there are not many viable options for recycling. Washable furnace filters are a much more environmentally friendly option in this regard, as they can be used for 2-10 years, depending on the model and manufacturer.
Reusable/Washable Air Filters
On the surface, washable furnace filters look nearly identical to their disposable cousins on the shelf next to them. Looks are often deceiving! The actual material the filter screens are made of is more durable to allow for continued use, wash after wash. Instead of having to go to the store every 2-3 months, washable furnace filter owners can easily slide the screen out of their HVAC unit, wash it with soap and water, let it dry, and pop it back in!
Reusable filters save money and time, as well as aids in the reduction of the mountain of plastic waste from disposable filters that we cannot recycle. Many of the washable designs are fitted with a metal backing to prevent the material from warping due to the constant flow of air from HVAC systems.
While these filters excel in their cost and environmental impact, they often lack the filtration category. Most of the reusable furnace filters available today have MERV ratings between 1-4. However, this does not mean that higher-quality washable air filters do not exist! Some manufacturers can obtain MERV ratings of 12 or higher by implementing state-of-the-art technology such as nanofiber.
Electrostatic vs. Mechanical Filtration
Washable air filters can either function using mechanical or electrostatic filtration types. There are pros and cons for each, so it is essential to look at your system’s unique needs and specifications before deciding which is suitable for you.
Electrostatic filters are great for attracting smaller particles floating through the air, such as smoke, bacteria, and other aerosols. On the other hand, they are not so great at capturing larger dust particles and pet hair. This is especially true if the system has higher airflow settings or requirements. If the air is moving too fast, it could end up blowing both the small and large particles that have already been captured all the way through your HVAC system and into your lungs. Unfortunately, the electrostatic pull is only so strong. Another drawback of the electrostatic filters is that their filtration efficiency decreases over time as dust and debris build up on the screen. For pleated filters, it is just the opposite. As the layers of dust accumulate and create a filter cake, efficiency values increase over time.
There are a couple of major types of mechanical filters: fiberglass, polyester, pleated, and HEPA. Fiberglass filters are the cheapest class but cannot achieve the higher MERV ratings that a polyester or HEPA filter can achieve. Higher quality filters are usually pleated, instead of a flat-sheet design, to increase the amount of available material to trap harmful, unwanted particles. These filters are also designed to last longer than fiberglass or synthetic filters. Corresponding MERV ratings are typically in the range of 4-8 for residential and commercial buildings. If you are looking to protect your family and friends from smaller particles such as COVID or smoke from wildfires, it may be a good idea to upgrade to filters that have a higher rating, such as 11 or 13.
HEPA filters are kind of in a league all their own. For a filter to be considered “HEPA,” it must be able to filter 99% of particles that are as small as 0.3 microns in diameter. Since these filters are so good at what they do, the cost to buy and maintain them can be pretty high. That is why you do not usually see them around homes or offices, but more so in places that need extremely clean air, such as hospitals, laboratories, or manufacturing centers that create a lot of ultra-fine particles that are detrimental to our lungs.
Filti Washable Air Filters and Disposable Filters
Here at Filti, we offer both washable air filters and disposable filters! Both designs function primarily through means of mechanical filtration. The washable filters have a MERV rating of 13, while our 9500 home furnace filters have a rating of 16. The secret ingredient is our patented nanofiber technology that resides between the layers of filter material. The ultra-thin (~100 nm in diameter) crisscrossing fibers within the electro-spun network act as a net to catch the particles that are as small as 0.3 microns in diameter, which is the most difficult size to capture.
Whether you choose our filters or someone else’s, it is vital to select one with a high-quality design and compatible with your system. You may think that those lower-quality fiberglass filters are doing the trick. Still, in reality, they are letting millions of tiny intruders into your lungs every time you turn on your heat or air conditioning. These agents of evil can slowly increase the risk of heart and lung failure over time and aggravate preexisting conditions such as allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.
Thanks for reading!
We are passionate about helping people stay healthy and improving the air quality that they are breathing. Our filter products are designed to help keep you and your family safe by filtering out the harmful particles in the air. Our mission is to make quality air filtration products available to all consumers and frontline workers. For more information about Filti, our washable air filters, disposable filters, mask products, and our mission, visit our website at filti.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!