A significant part of reducing allergens in your home is choosing the right furnace filter. It’s one of the first lines of defense, removing dust, pollen, and other allergens from the air to provide a cleaner environment.
It’s not enough to pop a filter in and call it a day. You need to choose a filter that provides excellent performance and is the right option for your particular home’s needs. If you aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered with a step by step guide and three recommendations for our favorite furnace filters.
To find the best furnace air filters for odors, you are going to have to learn about the types of filters you can choose. There are not only various types of filters, but each has different quality ratings, and all of these details matter if you want to find one that can purify your air most effectively. These filters work wonders when it comes to eliminating smells caused by cooking, renovations, pets and so on.
The first thing you have to learn is what ratings can tell you. Highly rated filters can trap more particles in the air. A filter with small holes was constructed to trap more particles.
It is important to note that highly rated filters are going to make your furnace work a little harder than normal, but that is simply the price to pay for more effective filtering. Those dealing with strong odors or have allergies are going to have to accept this for their own well-being.
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HEPA filters are one of the highest rated filters out there. They are used in hospitals to control allergens and odors. The only problem is that most residential furnaces cannot handle the resistance. You are going to have to talk to your furnace specialist to find out what your furnace can handle before making a purchase or installing an the best odor-fighting furnace air filter in your home.
You are going to have to think of two things if you decide to get a filter that is going to help remove allergens and odors more effectively. Since it is going to make your furnace work harder, that means your machine’s life expectancy may suffer a bit. No one is saying it is going to break the machine down quickly, but you may lose some life since it’ll be working harder.
The second thing to keep in mind is that since the machine will be working harder the bill may go up. It may not seem like much each month, but you know things tend to get more expensive with time. Make sure all of this will address the odor or pollutant you are dealing with.
Granted, some people cannot handle specific odors. Strong odors can make you feel disoriented or make it hard for you to concentrate. There are some air pollutants that could initiate an allergic reaction, which could not only put your health on the line but end up costing you some money if you are forced to visit a health care specialist. These are definitely good reasons to overlook the cons of choosing a filter with the highest rating possible.
Just so you know, the rating system that was mentioned numerous times earlier is the MERV rating system. The ratings go from one to 11, so make sure you pay attention to these numbers as you shop for your odor-fighting filter. Keep in mind that higher quality filters are going to cost you more, so make sure you are willing to pay a little more to handle this odor issue.
Learning About the Types of Filters Out There
There are several types of filters like the one mentioned earlier, the HEPA filter, and to choose the best for your odor and air pollutant problem, you’ll have to learn more about each of them:
The Disposable Fiberglass
One type of filter you are going to run across on your search is the disposable fiberglass filter. Most likely, it is one that you’ve come across a number of times, and you might have already purchased it a few times since they are the least expensive furnace filters out there. Most of the time, you can get a package of about 12 of these for around $20 in your local hardware store.
You can find one for a few bucks, so these are definitely one of the most popular options. Now, some people use them to deal with air pollutants and odor issues, and while they are not entirely useless, they are usually low-quality. If your air pollution problem or odor issue is severe, then these filters may not be able to do much for your problem.
Most of these filters come with a MERV rating that is usually no higher than four. This type filter is quite effective at removing dust, but they don’t do a good job at other air pollutants, especially tough odors, not to mention mold, bacteria, or pollen.
The Washable Electrostatic Filter
Most people’s experience with filters tells them that they are going to have to replace them at some point. This is because several of them cannot be reused, but that is not the case when it comes to washable electrostatic filters. Of course, washing these filters when the time is right is probably not a job that most people want to take on, but it does end up saving you some money since you won’t have to worry about replacing these filters like you would most other filters.
Part of what makes these types of filters special is that they work by generating a positive charge. This may not seem like much to you, but it is a pretty interesting phenomena that makes electrostatic filters quite effective at filtering out a lot, helping you create a relatively clean environment. You may not be able to see it, but the electrostatic nature of the filter is going to attract many air pollutants towards the filter and out of the air that is attempting to make its way through it.
You are going to have to wash them, as mentioned earlier, but you can do this outside with a hose and some patience. To use them again, the filter has to be left to dry, and after that, it can be placed back to do its job. These filters are a little more expensive than the disposable fiberglass filters. Some could be $50 though there are others that are few hundred dollars. The price depends on the quality of the filter and at times the brand that manufactures the filter.
Since this type of filter is not a dry filter media filter, it doesn’t come with an official MERV rating. You are going to have to rely on the company’s own internal rating should you choose to use this type of filter to deal with your odor problem. Some odors are negatively charge while others are not, which is why these filters are much more effective, but they still aren’t perfect since some odors won’t be attracted to the electrostatic charge.
If you want disposable filters, there are some out there, such as pleated disposable filters that come with an electrostatic charge, which may prove somewhat helpful. You can at least give them a try to see if they are effective.
Pleated Allergy Filters
What you get here are filters made specifically to deal with allergens. They are a little more expensive and don’t last more than three months, so you’ll have to replace them, but the MERV rating falls between seven and nine. Some stronger odors are going to get trapped by a filter this powerful. If you do have allergy issues of any sort, you are going to have to look at this option seriously for the sake of your health.
Activated Carbon Filter
Activated carbon filters are quite effective and maybe one of the best for odor issues. This type of filter deals with pet odors, smoke odors, cooking odors, and many other types of smells. It is its versatility that makes it such an effective filter against odors and other allergens that you might be dealing with.
Most of the time, these filters are pleated, which helps eliminate allergens and increase air flow. You are definitely going to end up paying a little more for each filter you purchase, but you are going to be getting an effective filter with a MERV rating as high as eight.
For this list, we chose filters with excellent efficiency ratings to provide top performance and easy installation. Here are our top picks to help you get started.
The Best Furnace Air Filters for Odors – Reviews
The BestAir furnace filter is a high-efficiency filter with a MERV rating of 11. It’s designed to capture even extreme odors for cleaner, breathable air while maintaining optimum airflow. The filter is pleated and carbon-infused for ultimate odor protection.
It’s designed for Honeywell models and Trion Air Bear. It comes in a few different sizes and would be great for households with pets or smokers. It can potentially last up to 12 months while in use, depending on the severity of pollutants in your home. It’s a bit of an investment, but worth it to keep odors at bay.
Nordic Pure pleated is carbon infused to help cut down on standard household odors, including pet and cooking odors. It features pleats for a MERV rating of 12 and offers 33% more surface area to preserve airflow.
The carbon-infused layer is suitable for a variety of odors, and an electrostatic coating helps cut down on air pollutants, and an antimicrobial layer helps reduce bacteria and mold. Nordic recommends changing filters every 30 to 90 days, depending on the severity of your air contaminants. Also, be sure to measure your exact filter because the “nominal” sizing may not be the precise fit.
FilterBuy’s activated charcoal filter provides protection against common household odors and contaminants with a MERV rating of eight. It’s designed to last around three months, depending on the quality of your home’s air, and is the most affordable of the three filters on this list.
The filters are designed to withstand humidity and cut down on bacterial growth. Measurements are taken based on the nominal size, so be sure to measure your exact filter compartment for more accurate measurements. Because they’re also the lowest MERV rating on the list, you may have to change them a lot more often if you have smoke or heavy odors.
Here is an option worth paying attention to. This specific filter can last up to 90 days and comes with carbon granule, which can help deal with odors though it also has some additional helpful ingredients.
You get baking soda here, which is a great air freshener, and you also have a special proprietary odor reducing ingredient. This means you’ll be attacking the odor issue in your property in three ways, improving your chances of success.
You’ve got a MERV rating of eight with this carbon filter, but it is a carbon filter and should be quite effective against the odors you are dealing with. The construction of the filter also makes it effective against dust mites, debris, lint, and other small particles that would have otherwise diminished your air quality. You will have to replace the filter every 90 days though there are some who change it every two months if the odor issue is severe.
Baking soda is powerful enough to get rid of a number of bad odors, and it is pretty natural. Couple that with the synthetic media that will help get rid of allergens, dust, and mold spores, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good furnace filter. The MERV rating is an eight, so it is more than suitable for most residential furnaces. There is no carbon in this filter, so you won’t get that benefit, but the baking soda should definitely help.
Hopefully, you can choose from one of these options because they are some of the best filters to deal with the offensive odors making your life impossible at home.
Choosing the Best Furnace Filter for Odors
There are a few things to consider when you’re making your choice. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
Obvious, right? However, this is still a common mistake. You see a deal on furnace filters and go for it, only to get home and realize that you’re off by an inch or so. Go ahead and take care of this consideration by measuring your furnace filter and commit it to memory.
“Good enough” fits aren’t the right choice either. If your filter is too small but still fits into the space, you’re missing a tight seal that helps prevent allergens and dust from slipping around the filter. The only way to ensure you’re maintaining one of your home’s defenses is to have precisely the right fit.
You’ve got the right size furnace filter, but you get home, and now the cover won’t close. You’ve missed the second step – filter thickness. Not all filters are created to be the same thickness, and the same measurement rules apply.
If your filter is too thick, the cover won’t close. If it’s too thin, your seal won’t be secure, and you’ll allow more allergens back into your home. With the right size and thickness, you ensure that your filter is operating as efficiently as possible.
In the long run, a pleated filter is more efficient and provides longer-lasting protection than a simple fiberglass filter with no pleats. Pleats offer more surface area to catch allergens and pollutants in your home’s air while allowing air to flow freely through the filter for better furnace efficiency.
Pleated filters also have the ability to catch smaller particles, particularly ones associated with odors. If you’re a smoker or have pets in your home, you’ll want to invest in a pleated filter to help control those odors and keep your air cleaner.
One of the biggest considerations for removing odors and other pollutants is the MERV rating. MERV, or minimum efficiency reporting value, indicates the filter’s effectiveness at eliminating certain types and sizes of particles from the air.
The higher the MERV number, the better the filter is at removing contaminants. Standard filters usually have a MERV rating of four, while standard pleated filters average a rating of six. If you upgrade to an electrostatic filter, those often average a rating of eight, while some of the highest quality filters have MERV ratings of 12 or so.
If your home is highly susceptible to pollutants and air contaminants, you might be better served by investing in filters with higher MERV ratings, rather than trying to make do with less efficient filters. You’ll have to change less efficient filters more often because your airflow will be more restricted sooner than it would be with higher efficiency filters.
Permanent Versus Disposable
In some cases, you may be able to get a permanent filter that goes in the washing machine to clean and use again. These can be a good option if you’re trying to cut down on environmental waste, but be aware that custom sizes can be expensive upfront. Also, they’re typically less efficient than disposable electrostatic filters. Be sure you do your research for your home and furnace before choosing this route.
Your furnace filter should be able to handle odors and pollutants without reducing airflow through the furnace. Filters that can clean your air efficiently provide an excellent defense against contaminants and pollutants that cause allergic reactions and breathing difficulties.
Deciding on the right filter does require a few considerations, but once you’ve got one in place, you can help reduce odors and pollutants and improve your home’s air quality. Use our handy tips to ensure that you have the filter that’s best for your situation and enjoy your fresh, breathable air.