1. United States
  2. Filtrete Home Filtration Products
  3. Home Tips
  4. Do I Need an Air Filter for Radiator Heat?
  • Do I Need an Air Filter if I Have Radiator Heat?

    If your house uses a boiler and radiators for heat, you might be wondering — do I need an air filter? Here’s the lowdown on how to clean your air when you don’t have an HVAC system.

    Woman standing near radiator

    Chilly fall weather means comfy sweaters, pumpkin spice, and turning on the heat again. Heating a home doesn’t look the same for everyone — if you live in an older house, you probably have radiators to keep things cozy instead of vented heat. If that’s the case, you may have noticed that your heating system doesn’t have a place to put an air filter. Here’s what you need to know about getting clean air at home when you don’t have an HVAC system.

    • What’s the difference between a furnace and boiler?

      Two primary types of heating systems in homes today are furnaces and boilers. A furnace is the heating component of a forced air, or HVAC, system. If you’ve got vents and air ducts in your home, you’ve got a furnace.

      On the other hand, boilers are older systems that heat homes by heating water in a combustion chamber and pumping the steam into your radiators, sometimes called “baseboards.” All furnaces have slots for air filters, since the system is pushing air through your home that might be filled with dust and debris. Since boilers aren’t moving any air, they don’t need a filter.

      Is a furnace or boiler better for my indoor air quality?

      Furnaces aren’t better than boilers (or vice versa) — they’re just different. Because furnaces are circulating air throughout your home, there are more chances for it to spread air filled with dust, dander and allergens from one room to another. However, if the air circulating through your home is being filtered through a fresh HVAC filter, a furnace can reduce the amount of airborne particles floating around.¹

      A boiler doesn’t rely on air to heat your home, so it won’t harm your air quality — but it won’t do anything to improve it, either. Furnaces allow for air circulation, which can improve ventilation and reduce indoor air pollution.² If you have a boiler, you’ll have to take extra steps to ensure the air in your home is circulating effectively.

      How can I get cleaner indoor air quality if I have radiators?

      No matter what kind of heating system you have in your home, simple air care tasks like opening windows, running exhaust fans, dusting and vacuuming can all help keep airborne particles at bay.², ³

      If you’re battling indoor air pollution without the help of an HVAC system, an air purifier is the perfect substitute. Filtrete™ Smart Air Purifiers keep tabs on your indoor air quality and filter it through a True HEPA filter, which captures 99.97% of airborne particles.* You can control the air purifier through the Filtrete™ Smart App, so you’ll be air aware no matter where you go.

      *As small as 0.3 microns, from the air passing through the filter media. Initial efficiency value.


      1. EPA.gov: Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home (PDF, 2.94 MB)
      2. CDC.gov: Improving Ventilation in Your Home
      3. AAFA.org: Control Indoor Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality

    Related Reads