I have a confession to make: Kev and I once forgot to change the filter in our HVAC central return unit for over 6 months. The first clue of our negligence was that there was more dust than usual floating around our home. We live in the country, so dust is an issue anyway; I didn’t catch on at first.
The lightbulb came on at some point, and Kev checked our filter. Holy cow, it was disgusting! I wish I had taken a picture of it, but you’ll have to take my word that there was something close to a 1/8″ grey dust matted on the filter … it was foul, and I am surprised that our air conditioner didn’t blow up from being choked (no joke).
After that, I started picking up our 20x20x1 filters at HEB, one of the grocery stores in San Angelo. Look, air filters are not my forte, but even I could tell that these weren’t the best quality. But they were convenient for me to buy because I was already at the grocery store (and didn’t have to make a special trip to Lowe’s or something), and they were better than nothing.
Even though PuraFilter says they can be changed out every three months, this is what they look like after ONE MONTH of use.
It’s not a matted 1/8″ thick, but look at the gray! That filter started out as the stark white you saw in the previous picture. Notice the green bug trapped in the gray? That just goes to show you that everything gets circulated through your HVAC system. =P
I should mention that the crappy HEB filters I was buying are evidently sold in packs of 12 online for $36 at Amazon and Sears, so that should tell you about their quality. Even so, I never paid less than $11 for the single-pack filter at HEB, I had to remember to pick them up, and it wasn’t like I was getting that great of a deal.
That image of the 1/8″ layer of dust has always stayed on my mind, though. I’ve never really put much thought into what an HVAC return does, other than turning on the heat or air conditioning when you fiddle with the thermostat, but if you think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that system actually introduces and circulates air through your entire house.
Part of the circulation process is filtering the recirculated air before it goes back into your home — which is the perfect time to catch pet hairs (we have an indoor cat and a dog, so we’ve definitely got a pet hair issue) along with dirt, dust, and any other floating things.
Failing to change your air filter regularly also puts unnecessary strain on your HVAC, which in turn causes it to use more energy, which in turn means higher utility bills for you, but beyond that — it’s the fact that you are exposing your family to all kinds of allergens and pollutants unnecessarily.
All of this is to say that it is important to change out your home’s air filter regularly, and FilterSnap is a subscription service that makes it impossible to forget when it is time to change out the filter.
FilterSnap allows you to schedule the frequency that you’ll receive filters, whether it be every one, two, three, six, or 12 months), and you can select the filter quality that you’d like.
A Word About Filter Ratings
Researching filter manufacturers taught us that many brands have created their own rating system. One filter brand will talk about Microns while another talks about Microparticle Performance Rating. This makes it impossible to compare one brand against another.
It turns out that there is an officially recognized standard for measuring air filter effectiveness. It is called the MERV rating. The MERV ratings of our Basic, Standard and Ultimate filters are 8, 11 and 13 respectively. If you want to dig into the nitty-gritty details of the MERV rating system, Wikipedia is a good place to start.
Like I said, we have a dog, a cat, a dust problem, and I have seasonal allergies, so at the very least, the Standard would be a good option for my home — possibly even the ultimate.
The way that the service works, after you have hit the Get Started button on the FilterSnap site and entered your filter size, you’ll be offered the chance to select which quality filter you want to have delivered, as well as the frequency. Prices shown are per month, so if you go with the Standard filter, for instance, you’ll be charged $17 for your first shipment and $17 each time the next shipment ships.
So once you’ve subscribed and when your box shows up, you know it is time to change your filter; don’t put it off, just do it.
How often should you get those new filters delivered?
According to a Service Experts blog post that I found,
This is not a trick; simply put – when your air filters are dirty, change them. Choosing how often to change your air filters can depend on several factors:
- Type of filter your A/C system requires
- The overall air quality of your city area home
- Pets – Birds, cats, dogs, hamsters (do you have one?), etc.
- Number of occupants in the house
- General air pollution in the your city area or construction taking place nearby
For your typical 1″-3″ air filters, the manufacturer specs basically say to change them bi-monthly, which is in fact a great rule of thumb. However, general guidelines are not applicable to all. If you have to tolerate light to moderate allergies, you may need to upgrade the air filter or change them even more regularly than OEM specifications. On the other hand, if you’re in a remote area, own a infrequently occupied home (like a vacation home) or an area where there are fewer cars around, replacing your air filters each year may be quite sufficient. Why do pets matter so much? They have a tendency to shed, which can clog your air filter fast. Clearly, the air filter is just doing its job by capturing pet hair and dander, but tremendously dirty filters can cause weak HVAC performance.
I think it’s safe to say that I should be changing my filters out no less than bi-monthly.
So let’s take a look at the difference between the Standard fine allergen filter that I was shipped and the brand I was using before …
Now compare the FilterSnap Standard filter on the left with the PuraFilter 2000 on the right. This is exactly how the PuraFilter came out of its bag — with filter fins smashed — no reinforcement on the back — and a single layer of filter material.
So now I have the FilterSnap filter in place, and just look at it! You can tell that the fins are stiffer, thicker, more plentiful, and ready for business. Best of all, they seem to hold up well, and we have seen a reduction in dust already.
Granted, we may need to change filters monthly for a while to really get things caught up, but it has been worth it to see less dust and pet hairs floating around in the morning during what Kev and I refer to as the “witching hour” — when the sun comes in our west-facing window and makes any dust or pet hairs in our previously thought of as clean house GLOW. Ugh.
FilterSnap is a convenient way to make sure that something you should be doing anyway gets done regularly with a quality product. It may cost a little bit more than what you are used to paying, especially if your usual HVAC filters have been purchased at a grocery store or in bulk, but these are better, stronger, and more effective. Don’t just take my word for it, though; order one and see what you think. You can cancel the service if you don’t appreciate the convenience and the quality of the filters sent. For me, this subscription seems like a no-brainer.
The FilterSnap subscription starts at $14 per shipment (with no tax and free shipping), and it is available directly from FilterSnap
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: A subscription to delivered HVAC filters at the monthly quality and subscription rate you determine; Receive the box, and you know it is time to install your new air filter; Air Filters are well made, and they do a good job.
What Needs Improvement: Nothing, I think this is a terrific service and product!