HVAC air filters trap dust, dander, pollen, tobacco smoke and other household chemicals like paint fumes or hair spray particles in your home. They not only reduce indoor pollution, but they also keep your air conditioning unit(s) working safely and efficiently.
Choosing the right HVAC Air Filters
When it comes to air filters, you have lots of options. Ultimately, it’s a matter of addressing the specific needs of your household in terms of the effectiveness of the filter (the number of particles and contaminates removed from the air by your air filter), while maximizing air flow so you don’t overtax your HVAC system.
It’s a balancing act. You don’t want your air filters to be so effective that you reduce air flow so much that your heating/cooling system has to work overly hard, but you can’t disregard efficiency in favor of air flow.
- Electrostatic air filters rely on electronic static or electricity to do their job. They don’t block air flow to your heating and cooling system. As a result, your HVAC system is more likely to operate without issues such as clogging. On the negative side, electrostatic air filters are not as efficient at removing air contaminates as other types of filters. They are a good choice for getting the most longevity out of your heating and air conditioning unit if you have no allergies. Its efficiency for clean air is over 90%.
- Fiberglass panel filters are inexpensive and can be purchased at any store. On the negative side, they are not very efficient as they only trap the large dust particles in the air. As a result, these filters get dirty very fast and if they are not replaced frequently, the resulting build up can cause air flow problems causing breakdowns and maintenance issues for your Heating and Air Conditioning units.
- Media air filters are cost effective and reliable. They are mostly used by HVAC professionals. These filters work by having a large number of layers of fiber. Contaminates are stopped before ever making it through all the layers and without poorly affecting air flow. However, most homeowners are not aware of them because these air filters are only sold by Wholesalers of HVAC professional supplies directly to HVAC industry professionals,.
- Pleated air filters are a very popular choice for homeowners. They are readily available, durable, moderately priced and most importantly effective. In fact, some are almost as good as media air filters (although they need to be changed more frequently). They are available in sizes from one to six inches (choose 2 inches or less) and many variety, including odor control and electrostatic options, wire mesh, etc. Instead of the air particles getting inside the filter, this type of filter works by trapping the air contaminates on its surface. Since the more the air is filtered, the less air flow comes through the unit, the folds in the design add surface area to collect the particles while still allowing plenty of room for air flow. If you have allergies, find one with a MERV rating of 10 or 12. (see MERV rating explanation in the “washable filter” section).
- HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) media stop particles and contaminates from going into the air system. If you have allergies or asthma this type of filter may be a good fit for you. HEPA media removes dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold spores and other household allergens while providing maximum dust removal. This filter is over 99% efficient and has more pleats per inch than the other pleated filters which increases airflow.
- Activated carbon air filters are used for buildings heavy with smell. Gas, cigarette smoke, animal and garbage odors can be eliminated or greatly diminished by using this charcoal based filter. While they are not as efficient as some of the other options, they can eliminate or minimize the need to use artificial scents and deodorizers to cover up those odors.
- Washable air filters are another option but they are not as effective as other options. An air filter’s performance in trapping particulates is expressed in the MERV rating. These ratings range from 1 to 16. A washable air filter typically has a MERV rating of 1 to 4 which is effective for larger particulates like dust and soot, but not appropriate if you are dealing with smaller particles such as pet dander, cigar smoke or hair spray. In addition, they need to be washed regularly and must be put back completely dry to avoid collecting bacteria and fungus. This extra maintenance make them cumbersome to use.
Keeping your HVAC Air Filters clean will save you money
Dirty air filters reduce the air flow making your system work harder to push the air through. In addition, dirty air filters can lead to dirty coils which can affect the performance of your home’s ventilation system.
On average HVAC air filters should be replaced every three months. If you own pets, have allergies or have smokers in the house, we recommend you replace your filters every 30 to 60 days. And at minimum, you must replace your air filters every 6 months to avoid the need for a service call. It’s the easiest thing you can do to keep your Heating and Cooling system in good condition.
Choosing HVAC Air Filters for your Raleigh, Cary, or Wake Forest Home? Cool Change Heating & Air Conditioning can help you choose the right one for you. Call 919-457-2494 today.