When your house’s HVAC system is running properly, it can be easy to forget about some of the routine maintenance you need to do to make sure it keeps running smoothly. One such task is replacing the air filter, which can improve air quality and help extend the lifespan of your HVAC system. Of course, you need to make sure you choose the right filter for your system. This can be more complicated than you think, so here’s what you need to know about finding the right HVAC filter for your home.
Disposable or Washable
The first choice you’re likely to make when selecting an HVAC filter is whether you want a disposable filter or one that’s washable. Disposable filters are more common because they’re easier to use. They will slide into your HVAC system’s ductwork, and then every few months you take out the dirty one and replace it with a new one. This makes it relatively quick and easy to keep up with maintenance. However, some people prefer washable filters. These require a little more work and upkeep but are a more permanent solution. Washable filters can be removed from the HVAC system, cleansed of all the dust and debris that’s been trapped, and returned to your system so it can continue to serve as a filter. On one hand, this requires a little more effort. But on the other hand, you don’t have to continue to buy disposable filters.
Pleated, Fiberglass, or Electrostatic
Pleated air filters are the most common when it comes to the material used to make the filter. They are typically more efficient and last longer than other types of filters, as they have more surface area. Of course, not all pleated filters are created the same, as some have more pleats, making them more efficient at trapping dust and debris. Pleated filters may also force your system to work harder, as they can add more resistance to your system’s air flow. Nevertheless, a pleated HVAC filter is typically a safe choice. Fiberglass is another common option, especially with people who are renting, as they are usually a little cheaper than pleated filters. They are flat and thin, making them good at picking out smaller pieces of debris. However, they aren’t always that efficient at preventing larger pieces of dust and debris from clogging your HVAC system, and so your air may not be particularly clean with a fiberglass filter. Finally, electrostatic filters are a slightly more expensive option, which is why they are less popular than pleated and fiberglass ones. Of course, they are typically more effective than pleated or fiberglass filters, as they are made of self-charging electrostatic cotton fibers that will attract and trap particles of all sizes. However, the biggest drawback of using electrostatic filters over an extended period of time is the cost, which can make some people opt for the cheaper options.
Arguably the most important part of choosing the right air filter for your HVAC system is understanding the MERV rating system. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and rates filters on a scale of 1 to 16 based on how well they filter out particles, how well air flows through it, and how long it lasts. Typically, the higher the MERV rating, the better the air filter. Of course, it’s also important to understand the ratings. For instance, any filter with a MERV rating higher than 12 probably isn’t intended for use in a residential house. These types of filters are typically used in hospitals or other types of commercial buildings. A filter with a rating between eight and 12 will usually be an electrostatic filter, although some pleated filters may be that high as well. Most disposable filters will receive a MERV rating between one and four, while washable filters may be slightly higher, assuming they are cleaned properly.
Finally, when choosing an air filter, you should consider any special needs you or anyone else in your home may have. For instance, if you have problems with allergies, it may be best to get an air filter with a higher MERV rating. The same is true for people who suffer from asthma or other types of respiratory conditions. Having pets, especially ones that shed, may also require a more efficient air filter. If you have any of these special needs, it would also be wise to change your filter more frequently.
Looking to buy a new HVAC filter? The expert team at AAA Heating and Air can help. Contact us today for more information!