Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

The Dirt On Expensive Furnace Filters

By In Furnace Filters On March 15, 2011


Are super expensive furnace filters really worth the extra money?

Ultra Allergen FilterThe main job of a furnace filter is to keep big stuff from getting in to the furnace heat exchanger or the air conditioner air coil and clogging things up with dust, pet hair, Barbie doll heads, and other big stuff.  They’re not intended to purify the air you breathe.  Furnace filters protect equipment; not people.

Manufacturers of furnace filters would have you believe otherwise (big surprise).  The most expensive disposable filters that I commonly see are the Best 1″ Air Filters made by 3M. These filters are marketed as being able to

capture at least 90% of large airborne particles like dust, pollen and pet dander from the air passing through the filter.

Sure.  I’ll buy that.  I’m sure these filters do a great job of preventing all those things from passing through the filter. There is no claim made, even by 3M, to improve indoor air quality.  Up until recently, these filters were sold as “Ultra Allergen” filters, but they’ve recently changed their wording.  I don’t know when this change happened, but you can still purchase “Ultra Allergen” filters on Amazon.

If you want to improve indoor air quality, do your research.  Expensive furnace filters have been proven to have a small effect on indoor air quality, and the furnace fan needs to stay running almost constantly.  I’ve heard plenty of anecdotal evidence from people who swear by the expensive furnace filters, but I’ve never found any studies proving that expensive furnace filters make a big difference in indoor air quality. Click these links to read information on this topic from the EPA and CMHC.

The problem with expensive furnace filters is that air flow gets restricted when they get dirty.  As I mentioned in my blog about the importance of changing your furnace filter, reduced air flow can actually lead to premature failure of your furnace, besides costing you more in heating bills.  This can also lead to service calls on your furnace.  Furnaces come equipped with heat sensors that will shut the furnace down if the heat exchanger gets too hot, and the main cause of this is insufficient air flow.  Of course, air flow will be restricted with any type of filter when it gets dirty, but I’ve found that the more expensive filters are the worst offenders.

My recommendation is to skip those super-expensive furnace filters.  You can support 3M by buying their other filters.  If you love the expensive filters and you swear by them, just remember to change them frequently.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

 

RELATED POST:  Don’t ruin your furnace.  Change your filter frequently.


About the Author

Reuben

Reuben is a second generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben has worked for Structure Tech since it was purchased by Neil in 1997, and is now co-owner of the company. Reuben’s favorite customers are the ones who have a lot of questions; he grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Reuben has an A.A. degree in liberal arts and has attended most of the Building Inspection Technology classes at North Hennepin Community College. Reuben and his wife are the proud parents of two young childen, Cy Alexander and Lucy Nicole, and have a German Shepherd named Stanley. With two young children Reuben doesn’t have much free time, but he still tries to play disc golf as often as possible during the summer. Reuben lives in Maple Grove, MN. Professional Qualifications / Memberships: *ASHI Certified Inspector *President, ASHI Heartland Chapter *Member, Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors (MSHI) *Licensed Minneapolis Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Saint Paul Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Maplewood Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Hopkins Truth-in-Housing Evaluator *Licensed Robbinsdale Point of Sale Evaluator *Affiliate Member, Southern Twin Cities Association of Realtors

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