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Air Filter Guide: Washable vs. Disposable Air Filters

Questions about washable vs disposable air filters for your HVAC system occasionally come up. A clean, fully functional air filter is one of the most important maintenance items to support maximum system performance and efficiency, as well as keep operating costs low and indoor air quality high. When it’s time to change your filter, making an informed choice between washable vs disposable air filters is important.

Washable vs. Disposable Air Filters: Here’s How the Two Types Differ

  • Washable filters are installed for up to five years. However, a multi-step maintenance procedure must be regularly performed to maintain filtration efficiency and prevent system airflow obstruction.
  • Disposable air filters are the most common in residential systems and recommended by all major HVAC manufacturers. Disposable filters should ideally be changed every month during the A/C cooling season and during winter when the furnace is running.

3 Reasons Why Disposable Air Filters Are the Industry Standard for Residential HVAC Systems

Better Eficiency

An air filter’s MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) represents its effectiveness at capturing airborne particulates. The higher the rating numeral, the more efficient the filter. Washable filters typically have a MERV rating down around 4 while disposable filters are available for standard home systems with MERV ratings as high as 12.

Quick, Easy Changes

Maintaining washable filters is time-consuming and labor intensive. Required steps include removing the filter element, vacuuming dust out, then washing and thoroughly drying the filter before re-installing. Replacing a disposable filter can be accomplished in two or three minutes—simply pull out the old filter, wipe the frame clean and slide in the new filter.

Cleaning Issues

Because air filter media is designed to retain airborne particulates, removing all dust, dirt and other particles by washing is often problematic. Particulates still remain deep within the media and degrade filter efficiency as well as reduce airflow. Installing a new disposable filter means you get a completely fresh, clean filter every time.

To learn more about the differences between washable vs disposable air filters, contact the HVAC pros at Arpi’s Industries.

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