Like their name would seem to suggest, furnace filters are designed to filter out dirt, dust and other contaminants from the air intake of your furnace. A clogged or damaged furnace filter can have a huge effect on the effectiveness and efficiency of your furnace. Understanding the different types of available furnace filters and their associated advantages and drawbacks can help you decide which type of filter is the best fit for your furnace's needs.
Disposable Fiberglass Furnace Filters
The most common type of furnace filters, fiberglass filters are designed to keep out larger pieces of debris from your furnace. However, they don't provide a high degree of air filtration, which makes them less than ideal for those with allergies and respiratory conditions. However, their low cost means that they are the right fit for homeowners with a tight budget: just keep in mind that you will have to replace them fairly often, driving up long run maintenance commitments.
Disposable Pleated Fiber Furnace Filters
Pleated fiber furnace filters are disposable, just like fiberglass filters, which means that they will require a somewhat significant amount of maintenance as they require replacements. However, they are much better at filtering the air of your home, and will remove mold spores, pests, and other things that would otherwise make it through fiberglass filters while still being relatively affordable.
Washable Pleated Fiber Furnace Filters
These types of furnace filters are effectively the same as their disposable counterparts, but are able to be washed instead of having to replace the entire filter every few months. The advantage of this is that you will save money over time, though the amount of maintenance is roughly the same as the filter still needs to be cleaned.
Disposable Electrostatic Furnace Filters
Electrostatic furnace filters carry an electric charge through the fibers of the filter, which allows the filter to attract particles that would otherwise flow through it. This provides a much higher degree of air filtration, making these filters the best fit for those who are concerned about their home's air quality and who are willing to pay a little extra money.
Washable Electrostatic Furnace Filters
The most expensive variant of furnace filter, these permanent filters can be washed over and over again. Their expense usually comes from the fact that they have to be custom made and installed onto your furnace, which can drive costs up significantly, but they will provide a great deal of filtration over the long term without having to consistently purchase new filters every few months. If you're unsure of what filter you need, a heating service can help you out.