The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Washable Filters

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Washable Filters


The top priority maintenance task that needs to be performed on a regular basis on your furnace and your HVAC system is changing your filters. Changing your filters extends the lifespan of your unit, keeps the air clean, and improves overall efficiency. If you’re a concerned about all the waste with throwing your disposable filters away every time you change, you may be interested in a “greener” option. Luckily for you, there is another option that can save wasting disposable filters every couple of months from going into the landfill: washable filters. Not only do they cut back on waste, they’re also easier on your wallet over time. Let’s take a look at all the advantages and disadvantages of washable filters.

Washable Filters: The Good

Economical option – At about $10 per filter, disposable filter yearly costs can add up. Think about not having to buy another filter for a period of, on average, 5 years. With washable filters, this is typically the case. Within the first 5 or 6 changes, you will have paid for the washable filter and the other 40+ changes that you can get from a washable filter are basically free! The cost of a washable filter on the front end is pricier, however with proper care washable filters can easily last 5 or more years, or about 50 changes. You don’t have the be a math guru to see the great economical benefits to washable filters

Forget to remember? – If you’ve ever gone to the big box store, the hardware store, or the home center with intentions of buying your filters and got home only to realize you forgot, you’re not alone! Washable filters eliminate this problem. Stocking up ahead of time or needing to make special trips to the hardware store will be behind you. For those who don’t have a lot of extra storage space, stocking up may not be an option either. This is another great benefit to using washable filters.

Less wasteful – One of the biggest advantages for most people is the fact that they’re contributing to a “greener” planet when they switch to washable filters. Metal, fiberglass and cardboard, the standard composition to disposable filters, typically all ends up in the landfill. Separating out the fiberglass from the cardboard and metal is a time-consuming task that doesn’t usually get done. Fiberglass doesn’t naturally decompose, and the metal typically gets buried with the rest of the product. Imagine the positive impact if everyone in America switched the washable filters? That would be tons of saved trash every year!

With the good covered, it’s time to take a look at some of the disadvantages to washable filters. For some people, the bad may outweigh the good.

Washable Filters: The Bad

High Maintenance – With normal filter replacement, you take the disposable filter out and put in the new one. Done! With the washable filters, there are a few steps to this process that add time.

Step 1: Turn off your unit

Step 2: Remove the used filter

Step 3: Spray it down to remove all the debris and particulate matter.

Step 4: Let it dry completely

Step 5: Replace filter

Step 6: Turn the unit back on

Remember, running your unit without a filter in it can not only damage your air quality, but also the unit itself if debris cycles through the system uninterrupted. Though the cleaning process is not very time-consuming, the wait time on the drying process can be. And it is very important to let the washable filter dry completely before replacing it. To cut down on wait time, some users of washable filters have a second filter on hand to use while they washable filter is being cleaned and dried. This makes a lot of sense and gives you another 50 changes (or about 5 years of use).

Lower efficiency – Washable filters aren’t readily available in a higher MERV rating like the disposable filters are. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particle your filter can trap. Small particles like mold spores, smoke, dust mites, and pet dander require a higher MERV rating. MERV 16 is available in disposable filters, but in washable filters, you’d be pressed to find anything about a level 6. With high indoor air quality goals in mind, washable filters may not be the best choice simply because of this one drawback.

Attracts mold and mildew – After cleaning your washable filter, if you don’t have the patience to let it dry completely, mildew and mold could form. This will wreak havoc on your indoor air quality and defeats the purpose of having an air filter in the first place!

At PJ’s HVAC Repair, we strongly recommend you reach out to a professional to guide you in your decisions to upgrade your air filter. Some systems can become damaged if the filter you’re using isn’t up to the standard required. Give us a call or drop us a message on the form below. We’re happy to help answer any questions!

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