HVAC professionals are constantly reminding homeowners to change their air filters during the year. Continuing to use a clogged filter for too long can strain your system and result in high energy bills and low heating output. However, having to replace your filter every one to two months can significantly impact your household’s landfill footprint. Keep these pros and cons in mind when deciding if washable or reusable HVAC air filters are right for you.

Pros of Washable Air Filters

Standard HVAC filters are made of fiberglass or metal mesh secured within a cardboard exterior. While you may be able to recycle the filter if you take it apart, this can be an arduous and time-consuming task. Many local recycling plants don’t accept them, and you may find some materials like fiberglass won’t degrade with time. If you switch out your filter every six to eight weeks, you could be going through upwards of nine annually depending on your system. Reusable electrostatic filters can last up to five years, saving you from filling your trash can.

These filters are more convenient than conventional options. With a traditional filter, you have to make a trip to the home improvement store every couple of months to pick up more. In some cases, you may forget to buy them in time, leaving your home without a filter and putting your HVAC system at risk of sucking in harmful contaminants. Washable filters simplify the replacement process. Your care routine will consist of rinsing out the filter’s accumulated debris and letting it dry before sticking it back in place.

Consider using electrostatic filters if you regularly have a hard time finding the proper sizes. Stores typically carry the most common options, which can make it hard to find the ideal filter if your HVAC system needs a rare size. You should never try to size up or down as this can leave your furnace unprotected against pollutants. A custom electrostatic filter will always fit perfectly, saving you from hunting around in different stores and online.

Finally, washable air filters are the less expensive alternative. Initially, these filters are a more costly investment, but they’ll quickly earn back the money you spend. With proper care, you won’t have to worry about investing in another filter for several years.

Potential Cons

While electrostatic filters come with various eco-friendly and budget benefits, it’s important to consider their potential downsides. Switching over to washable filters will require spending more in the beginning than you would on a standard filter. The cheapest disposable filter options start below $10. Reusable options, on the other hand, may cost you upwards of $35 each.

Another potential concern is that electrostatic filters aren’t the best choice if you need high air quality. All air filters receive a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating that designates how effective they are at removing airborne particulates. Cheaper, low-quality filters tend to have ratings between one and four. However, more advanced filters can go up to 14, which is better if you live in a home with children or those with respiratory illnesses. Unfortunately, washable filters tend to have MERV ratings toward the lower end of the scale.

They won’t do much if you live with pets or struggle with volatile organic compounds. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters have the powerful ability to tackle unpleasant lingering odors and other chemicals that might lower your air quality. Smoke, pet dander, aromatics, and aerosols can irritate your lungs and lower your home’s comfort. If you’re focused on filtration and maintaining your breathing air’s purity, you may be better off with a disposable filter.

You’ll also have to take special care when washing and reinstalling these filters. If you put them back in place before they’ve fully dried, there’s a chance the moist filter material may attract mold spores. The infestation could spread into your HVAC system and ductwork. Along with damaging your belongings, your household’s health could be at risk.

Top-Quality Indoor Comfort Team

Kahn Air Conditioning has served families and businesses in Greater Los Angeles, CA since 1961. We’ve earned an exceptional reputation within our community for quality work, competitive fees, and caring customer service. Let our NATE-certified technicians handle your heating or cooling repair, installation, or tune-up appointment. We carry a range of indoor air quality systems like whole-home fans, purifiers, and more. Call Kahn Air Conditioning today to learn more.

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