When we paid several thousand dollars a few years ago to install a new, high end furnace, we vowed to keep it in excellent working order by replacing it’s filters on a regular basis. The technicians who installed our furnace said the single most important (and easiest) thing to do for your furnace is to replace the air filters on a regular basis. He recommended pleated furnace filters.
There are many different styles and variations of furnace filters on the market, from the ultra cheap that can be purchased for a few dollars, to the more expensive pleated allergen filters, which can cost as much as $25.00 each.
Because we choose the high end filters, I always watch for good sales, then I stock up for a year. At the beginning of winter, my local Fred Meyer store had the 3M Filtrete Ultra Allergen Air Filters on sale, at a nicely discounted price. If I purchased two I got one free, and I went ahead and bought three of the Filtrete filters.
With homes being more and more air tight and energy efficient, that means the air quality in our homes becomes even more important, and buying a good furnace filter can help capture and control allergens, dust, smoke, etc.
3M makes a variety of furnace filters, but the ones that I purchased are their Ultra Allergen 1250 Filtrete filters. These come with a deep purple colored packaging, making them easy to identify from purchase to purchase.
The filter comes in various sizes, but is one inch thick, and is heavily pleated to give the filter much more surface area over a filter that is flat. This means that the filter can actually catch more of the bad stuff, and will last up to three months (when some of the cheaper filters actually need to be replaced after one month).
What 3M Says
3M has a ton of good information on both the front and back of the package. They say this filter contains electrostatically charged fibers, that are effective in catching 90% of large allergens. These types of allergens would be pollen, mold spores, and dust mites. But that’s not all these Filtrete filters do, they also capture microscopic allergens such as smoke, pet dander, dust, smog, bacteria, and other particles that can carry viruses.
How Filtrete Filters Work
When you use your furnace to heat your home, the air circulates through your home and through the furnace filter. The Filtrete filters capture the above mentioned particles by creating a barrier that prevents them from getting into the furnace. Second, because the fibers are electrostatically charged, they pull in and capture particles, much like a magnet would capture metal.
Filtrete makes a Micro Allergen Filter, with a MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating) of 1000. This 3m Ultra Allergen Filter has a MPR of 1200. Their tests show that the charged fibers in these filters work better than 3 month pleated, washable or fiberglass filters (with the same thickness of 1 inch).
Information from the American Lung Association
The information printed on the back of this package came directly from the American Lung Association, and it’s a little surprising and frightening at the same time. They state that indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air! Furthermore, they go on to say that the EPA (Evnironmental Protection Agency) has actually identified indoor air pollution as one of the top 5 urgent environmental risks to public health!
Exposure to pollutants like smoke, pet dander, dust, molds, household cleaning chemicals, etc. can contribute to health problems like asthma, allergies and respiratory diseasse.
3M is one company who has partnered with the American Lung Association Health House Program, which tries to raise indoor air quality. (However, the American Lung Association does not endorse any specific products).
Our Experience with 3M Filtrete Filters
These filters have an area to write the date that they were installed, however since I can’t see this when the filter is in place, I put a sticky note in that area, telling me when the next filter change is due.
After using cheaper filters with our old furnace, I can definitely say that these more expensive filters really do last longer. The large amounts of pleats on the filter give it so much more surface area to capture the contaminants! I really can go 3 months during the winter months with one of the Filtrete Ultra Allergen filters, but during the summer when we have more dust in the air, I change them out every 2 months. What works for one person may not work for another, it heavily depends on your environment.
If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, burn a lot of candles, smoke cigarettes, or have any kind of construction going on in your home, these variables all impact the effectiveness of your furnace filters.
Overall, I am very pleased with the quality and performance of the 3M Filtrete Ultra Allergen furnace filters.