Are Furnace Filters Recyclable?

Are Furnace Filters Recyclable?

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With proper upkeep, furnace filters should be changed each three to six months to ensure a healthy living space. This will not only provide a cleaner environment for you but changing out a filter will keep your machine in its proper working order. With so many filters being interchanged and thrown away, you may be questioning whether or not your air filter is recyclable or not.

When you think about it, it makes sense to wonder this question since you’d be throwing away anywhere from two to four filters a year, if not more. The cleaner you expect your air to be, the environment and even the season are all factors to consider when it comes to how often you should change out your filter. We’ve got all the info on air filters and how you should dispose of them below.

What is a Furnace Filter?

Furnace Filters

A furnace filtering device is a barrier between the outpouring air and your home. It is responsible for trapping all kinds of dust and other pollutants in its porous material. Typically made of fiberglass, the pollutants stick within the heavily wound fibers to prevent it from seeping into your home. Having a good filtering device is especially important for those who suffer from allergies or asthmas. Although it will not purify the air within your home, it will help trap some of these pesky allergens from getting into your home and the air that you breathe.

There are all kinds of filters that vary in size, shape, and brand, but you need to make sure you are using the appropriately sized filter for your furnace to ensure the top quality. This will improve the quality of the air that you breathe as well as the maintenance of your machine. A dirty filtering device over time can ruin a machine due to the sticky pollutants that will start to gather outside of the filter and on to the machine coils and slats. You don’t want a machine to stop working prematurely, so it’s important to keep this in mind and keep up a changing of the filtering schedule.

So, Can You Recycle Furnace Filters?

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Although there are parts of a furnace filtering device that are typically recyclable, such as the outer cardboard frame, the inner parts of the actual filter are not recyclable. Since these filters are typically comprised of fiberglass, that would render the filter unrecyclable. Fiberglass itself is not recyclable, after all, the only way to really dispose of fiberglass is to carefully throw it away. Technically, you could tear apart the cardboard housing of the filter, but the risk of injuring yourself or cutting yourself on the fiberglass is too great to risk it. Fiberglass is used in furnace filters due to its sticker properties and porous fibers that allow all sorts of dust and grime to easily become entrapped inside the filter.

Due to the bulk of the filter being made out of non-recyclable material, it’s safe to say that a furnace filter is not recyclable. There may be some filters out there that use other materials instead of fiberglass, but these aren’t so common and will not clean the air as properly as a fiberglass filter will. It’s up to you to read all the materials of the filters before making a choice in which filter will work best for your home.

How to Dispose of a Furnace Filter

In order to safely dispose of a furnace filter, it is recommended to wrap the old filter in old newspaper or paper towels and place in the trash. That’s all there is to it. Some people like to try to use their dirty furnace filter a few times by taking it out every three months and blowing all the dust from it, but you can only really do this once as it’s not safe for you, other people living within the house or your machine.

Proper disposal of Furnace Filter

Aside from too much gunk or residue collecting in the coils, slats and actual filter that can cause damage to the machine, you would also have to worry about too much dust becoming entrapped within the machine and potentially causing a dangerous fire. To be safe, get a new filter and change it out every three to six months. You and your family will thank you for it and your machine will last as long as it’s supposed to.

Again, wrapping a dirty filter and then placing it in the trash is the best way to dispose of an old filter. Simply place it in the regular trash can, not the recyclable bin since you can’t recycle all parts of the filter. No recycling center would take the time to pull off the cardboard bits that are recyclable as it is dangerous due to the fiberglass. Just tossing it is your best option when it comes to these kinds of filters.


The Bottom Line

Although furnace filters aren’t recyclable, that doesn’t mean you have to be wasteful. Using your filter to its fullest is the only real way to ensure you’re still protecting the environment. Use your filter for up to three to six months, then get rid of it and purchase a new one. Once you get into this routine, changing out the filter will be a breeze and you’ll become an expert when it comes to properly change out and disposing of these filters. Maybe one day there will be an equally porous material in place of fiberglass that can be entirely recyclable, but for right now, this is pretty much the standard.

Handyman holding a furnace filter with thumbs up

Don’t forget to wrap up your old furnace filter before disposing of it so that no one who handles the trash gets cut by the small, sharp fiberglass fibers. It may seem like this nest of fiberglass can’t cause many images, but it can definitely get under the skin and cause some pretty painful irritation if you’re not careful.

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