The Problem With Washable Air Filters

The Problem With Washable Air FiltersThe importance of going Green has transformed the way many homes function today. There are trash compactors, bamboo floors, and rain barrels. Yet your furnace and HVAC system also offer big opportunities for being more energy efficient.

Air filters safely trap particles like pollen, tobacco smoke, dust, mildew, and mold. They also keep your heating and air conditioning units working effectively and efficiently. Washable air filters are one way homeowners are trying to go Green. But is it the best way?

The Theory Behind Washable Filters

In theory, an air filter that you simple rinse off and stick back in your furnace can save you time and money. There's no need to run out to the store and buy disposable air filters and furnace filters. A washable filter, because of its plastic-like material, might last up to five years, whereas a household might go through 60 or more non-washable filters in that same amount of time.

There are a variety of eco-friendly air filters on the market, and many are made out of recycled and recyclable materials. These eco-friendly filters often claim to perform as well or better than disposable filters, and many homeowners know to look for and trust the Energy Star rating on the packaging.

The Question Is, Does Washing Really Get An Air Filter Clean?

Unless you have a washable filter, you should never wash or vacuum a disposable air filter. Whole house filters, air filters and furnace filters are designed to capture debris found within most homes, but no matter how clean your washable filter may appear, there is no guarantee it is completely free of debris. Washing and vacuuming a disposable filter can also damage the material or bend the frame, rendering the filter ineffective and putting your HVAC system at risk.

For furnace filters that are meant to be washed, the problem is twofold:

  • Even when thoroughly washed, there is a good chance that tiny particles of debris will remain on the filter

  • Homeowners often replace the air filter when it's not totally dry

If you took a wet paper towel and put it outside you would expect it to catch whatever might be in the air. This is what happens when you stick a damp washable air filter back in your furnace. These particular filters have a tendency to attract mold, and one of the main purposes of an air filter is to remove mold and mildew spores from the air.

Washable vs. Disposable

  • Maintenance. Washable filters require regular visits to the furnace room to remove and clean thoroughly. A disposable furnace filter might require the same trip to the basement but it's an easier process. Simply pull out the old air filter, toss in the trash, and slide in a new one.

  • Disposable air filters are more effective at trapping small particles. Washable air filters are typically only good at protecting from large particles like dust. They do not effectively filter out pet dander, bacteria, viruses or smoke, especially when they're not meticulously maintained.

  • Washable air filters only offer a MERV rating between 1 and 4. This is fairly low considering the MERV ratings for other air filters go as high as 16.

  • Disposable air filters and furnace filters are fairly inexpensive. Washable air filters can be expensive since they're meant to last for several years.

Contact AirFilterBuy today to learn more about the differences between washable and disposable furnace filters. One of our knowledgeable customer service representatives can help you determine the best product to make your system more energy efficient while keeping your indoor air clean and healthy.