Pros & Cons of Washable Furnace Filters

wash basin sink with water
To maintain good indoor air quality and prevent your furnace from overheating, you should plan to replace your furnace filter as often as once a month. The cost of changing out the filter this regularly can add up. If you’re sick of buying new filters so often, the concept of a washable furnace filter may sound appealing. Learn what to consider when deciding between disposable and washable HVAC filters.

Pros of Washable Furnace Filters

Here are some reasons to opt for a washable furnace filter:

  • Save money in the long run: The cost of a washable filter is higher upfront than a disposable one, but it lasts five years or longer, so it quickly pays for itself. After all, HVAC professionals recommend replacing the furnace filter every one to three months. This means a single washable HVAC filter replaces 20 to 60 disposable filters. It’s easy to calculate how much you save over the years.
  • Avoid the need to stock up on filters: You probably hate running to the hardware store to buy a new HVAC filter every few months. You could always stock up, but where will you store all those filters? It’s also tricky to buy in bulk if you have a hard-to-find size, which only adds to your stress level each time you go to replace the filter. Switching to a washable filter is a huge convenience compared to these struggles of replacing a disposable one.
  • Reduce waste: Typical disposable filters are made of fiberglass, cardboard, and metal. Any hopes of recycling a furnace filter are dashed when you realize that fiberglass is non-biodegradable, and separating the cardboard and metal components is a time-consuming task for your local recycling center. A washable filter diverts the waste caused by replacing your filter four to 12 times per year.

Cons of Washable HVAC Filters

Consider these reasons why it might be better to stick with disposable HVAC filters:

  • Lower efficiency: Washable electrostatic furnace filters usually come with a MERV rating of 1 to 4. Disposable filters are available in this range as well, but high-efficiency versions go as high as MERV 16. If you have asthma, allergies, or a chronic lung condition, the higher filtration available from disposable filters may outweigh the benefits of washable versions.
  • More maintenance: When it’s time to replace a disposable filter, the task is as simple as pulling out the old one and slipping in the new one. In comparison, you must spray your washable filter to dislodge dust and debris, which can be an unpleasant experience. Then, you must wait for it to dry before you can run the furnace again. This means you may need to buy a second filter and rotate the two so your house doesn’t become uncomfortable.
  • Can attract mould and mildew: If you become impatient and reinsert a washable filter before it’s completely dry, the lingering dampness could attract mould and mildew. This could wreak havoc on your indoor air quality, which, ironically, is one primary reason you use a filter in the first place.

Get More Furnace Filter Advice from Aire Serv®

With these factors in mind, it’s time to choose between disposable and washable HVAC filters. If you’re still struggling to make a decision, the experts at Aire Serv can help. Remember, you should never install a specialty filter without first speaking with a heating and cooling technician. This way, you don’t accidentally damage your system in an attempt to upgrade filtration.

Please contact Aire Serv with any additional questions you have about HVAC filters.