Best Furnace Filters for Homes With Pets
If you’re a pet parent in a home that uses a furnace for heating, you will need the best furnace filter for pet allergies. Pets make great companions, but they also leave hair, dander, and smells, reducing the air quality in your home.
Even if you don’t have pet allergies, you should still consider installing a furnace filter suitable for a home with pets. Why? The simple reason is that without a pet-friendly filter in your furnace, all that pet hair and dander would take a toll on the furnace’s performance and the HVAC system.
Also, if your furnace has a pet allergen-removing filter, you may not necessarily need to use an air purifier to remove pet hair and dander.
Can a Furnace Filter Remove Pet Hair and Dander?
The right furnace filter can remove pet hair and dander. Different furnace filters with a high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating can reduce pet allergens from the air.
But, as you would know, not all filters are created equal. Much like HVAC filters, most furnace filters are designed to trap large dust particles so they don’t end up inside the system. They are not necessarily designed to purify the air and remove allergens. While they may trap suspended pet hairs, they might not be able to remove pet dander, which is microscopic and remains in the air for long.
That said, a rated furnace filter for pets can remove pet dander from the air so that the warm air from it doesn’t cause pet allergies.
Investing in a furnace filter for pet allergen removal is a good idea when you have pets in your home. It’s beneficial from a health point of view and important for optimal furnace performance.
Without proper filtration, pet dander would gradually settle inside the furnace system, regardless of the type. Over time, it will impact the components of the system and may result in the furnace malfunctioning.
Different Types of Furnace Filters for Homes with Pets
While furnace filters differ by construction and filtration mechanism, not all are good at removing pet allergens.
To make things easier for you, here are the different types of rated furnace filters you can consider buying for a home with pets, ranked from most effective to least effective.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can filter over 99 percent of particles of 0.3 microns or higher. These are the most effective filters for removing pet dander from the air, as pet dander is typical 2.5 microns or higher in size.
At this level, HEPA filters can remove many other contaminants from the air, which is why these filters are commonly found in air purifiers as they effectively increase air quality.
A HEPA furnace filter is also recommended for people with respiratory issues, as contaminated air from any appliance can cause health problems. So even if you’re not allergic to pet dander, you may want a furnace filter that actively removes it.
Pleated Furnace Filters
Pleated furnace filters are also very efficient at trapping small particulate contaminants, including pet dander. However, they are more efficient than flat panel filters because the pleated construction offers more surface area, which means more contaminants are trapped. So, these filters last comparatively longer than synthetic or fiberglass flat panel filters.
You can find both disposable and washable pleated furnace filters. The former, although not washable, last relatively longer than flat panel filters because of their increased surface area.
Electrostatic Furnace Filters (Disposable and Washable)
Electrostatic filters use static to trap airborne particles. These filters feature self-charging fibers that can attract particles, including pet dander or hair.
There are disposable and washable electrostatic furnace filters. The washable ones are typically made of electrostatic cotton fibers and last longer. However, they must be washed regularly to ensure they trap contaminants efficiently. Usually, you just have to wash them with warm water and soap.
Fiberglass Furnace Filter
Fiberglass filters are the most common for furnaces as they are cheap and disposable. These flat panel filters can help remove pet allergens but are not the most effective. They can filter up to 25 percent of 3 to 10 microns particles. Therefore, they might trap pet hair efficiently but not pet dander.
They also have a low MERV rating (typically 4 or less). However, they are quite cheap.
These may be suitable for homes that use high-quality air purifiers to remove pet allergens.
Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon filters do not remove pet allergens but are effective at removing pet odors. Also, these are not as common for furnaces. However, these filters can also remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including gases produced by your pets, such as methane and nitrous oxide.
Some pleated furnace filters are made of carbon material to remove odors in addition to particulate matter like dust and debris.
Which MERV Rating is Best for Homes with Pets?
Regardless of the type of filter, it’s best to consider the MERV rating of a filter to gauge its filtration capacity. The MERV rating doesn’t just indicate which contaminants the filter can remove but also to what extent it can offer purification.
For furnaces in homes with pets, go for a filter with a rating of at least MERV 8. Of course, the higher, the better, but a MERV 8-rated furnace filter would do a reliable job trapping pet hair and dander.
A MERV 8 filter can remove 85 percent of large particles (3 to 10 microns) and 20 percent of smaller particles (1 to 3 microns). In comparison, a MERV 13 filter can remove 90 percent of particles of 1 to 3 microns without restricting airflow to the furnace.
A filter with a MERV rating of lower than 8 may trap pet hair suspended in the air, but it won’t trap pet dander.
How to Choose the Best Furnace Filter for a Home with Pets?
Furnace filters are readily available online, and most furnaces are compatible with a wide range of filters. However, that only increases your choices and confusion. If you’re concerned about pet allergens, here’s what you should keep in mind:
Choosing the right filter size for your furnace isn’t simply an option but a necessity. The filter should easily fit into the furnace filter housing and stay intact. A small or loose filter won’t filter air effectively and let the dust, debris, and dander slip inside the system.
You can use the existing furnace filter for sizing or look into the guide or paperwork that came with the furnace. You can also manually measure the filter size that goes into the furnace’s housing.
Your main consideration when buying a filter for the furnace is its level of filtration (or type of filtration). Since you’re concerned with pet allergens, you should consider buying a MERV 8 or higher rating filter.
However, if you also want the furnace filter to trap other contaminants like pollen, mold spores, and germs, you should consider a MERV rating of 15 or higher (HEPA filters).
Similarly, if your concern is the odor, a common problem in households with pets, you should use a furnace filter with carbon in its construction. Other filters don’t absorb odors as well as carbon filters do.
You should also consider the required maintenance of the furnace filter. You have both disposable and reusable filter options.
Reusable, washable furnaces are cost-effective and eco-friendly options as you can simply vacuum or wash them once dirty.
On the other hand, disposable filters need to be replaced, which some people may find more convenient than washing one. When going with a disposable filter, go for a thick one so that it can last longer.
Disposable vs. Washable Furnace Filter: Which is Better for Homes with Pets?
Besides choosing from different types of furnace filters, your main choice is between disposable and washable filters. Both pros and cons exist, so it comes down to what advantages work better for you.
Disposable Furnace Filters
Disposable furnace filters can be cheap or expensive, depending on the construction, brand, and MERV rating. Compared to washable filters, disposable filters have a high MERV rating, which means they can offer better filtration of small particulate matter, such as pet dander.
While a higher MERV rating of a disposable filter generally indicates a high level of air purification, it’s not always a great idea for furnaces and HVAC systems. For instance, medical-grade HEPA filters can remove up to 99.9 percent of particles 0.3 microns or bigger. However, they can result in airflow restriction causing the furnace to work harder. That, in turn, results in more energy consumption and early parts failure.
One clear advantage of disposable filters is that you don’t have to maintain them (clean and dry). You can simply throw out the clogged one and place in the new one.
On the other hand, disposable filters can be comparatively costlier in the long run. If you have multiple pets in the home, you may need to replace the filter sooner, which increases the furnace maintenance costs over time.
Washable Furnace Filters
Washable furnace filters last longer than disposable ones. However, remember that they can also wear out and need replacement eventually. They are more cost-effective than disposable filters.
One common issue with washable furnace filters is that these typically don’t have a high MERV rating. Consequently, such filters may not be super efficient at trapping pet dander in a home with pets.
Also, cleaning out the pet fur from the filter can be difficult. So, you’d have to clean the filter more frequently to avoid having too much fur trapped in the filter.
It’s more eco-friendly than a disposable filter, so those who are environment-conscious may want to invest in a reusable filter for their furnace.
How Long Does a Furnace Filter Last with Pets in Home?
Normally, you may have to change your furnace filter every six months. However, with pets in your home, your furnace filter may not last six months. Depending on the type of filter, the number of pets, and how much they shed, your filter may last for a month to three months.
Reusable filters can last much longer than disposable ones, provided they are well-maintained. If you have pets, you may want to wash the filters sooner than the recommended period. Clean the filter at least once a month.
What is the MERV rating?
MERV, or minimum efficiency rating value, is a rating for air filters that manufacturers use to indicate the effectiveness of a filter at filtering contaminants. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles the filter can capture.
MERV rating ranges from 1 to 20, with MERV 1 to 4 offering the lowest filtration and MERV 17 and above offering the highest.
Can a clogged furnace filter cause problems?
A clogged furnace filter can restrict airflow into the furnace, which results in low airflow out of the furnace. Similarly, it can cause the furnace to work hard to suck the air in, which can take a toll on its components and use up more energy.
Therefore, it’s essential to clean or replace the filter on time and not let it get clogged.
What is the best furnace filter for a home with pets?
Pleated furnace filters with a MERV rating of 7 or above are some of the best for homes with pets. Here are the best choices for furnace filters that can trap pet hair and dander.
The best furnace filters for homes with pets are those with a rating of MERV 8 to 13. These are typically pleated filters made from different media that trap small particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, HEPA filters are the most efficient overall, but they are more commonly used in air purifiers than in HVAC or furnaces.
Make sure to choose the right size of the furnace filter. Some of the filters are actually smaller than the advertised size.