Residential and commercial HVAC experts know that filters are essential to keeping your equipment in good shape. Replacing or cleaning filters regularly is one way to ensure your HVAC system performs well and lasts. When these components are clogged with dirt and debris, air will not circulate properly in your living spaces and allergens and pollutants will accumulate in your indoor air.
The proper HVAC filters can help keep the air you breathe at home clean and even prolong the life of your units. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose.
Understand MERV Ratings
Choosing HVAC filters can be a challenge, especially if you are doing it for the first time. Understanding the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) ratings are essential to selecting the ideal filter for your equipment. This rating pertains to an air filter’s ability to catch airborne particles as air passes through cooling and heating systems.
The MERV rating for residential properties ranges from one to 16. The higher the rating is, the more particles a filter can capture. A filter with a low MERV rating will only remove a small number of air pollutants from your living space. Experts recommend getting filters with MERV ratings between seven and 12 for improved indoor air quality. By investing in a filter with a high MERV rating, you will also reduce the need for dusting.
Know Your Options
Fiberglass filters don’t cost as much as their counterparts. They have a flat surface that catches particles in the air. However, they can only filter out up to 20% of airborne particles, typically ranging in size from three to 10 microns. They will capture larger particles, such as lint, dust and small insects. You will have to replace them monthly. They have a MERV rating of one to four.
Electrostatic air filters are disposable and have self-charging electrostatic cotton or paper fibers that trap small particles. The air passing through the static-prone fibers generates the electrostatic charge. You should consider them if you have pets or children at home. You will need to replace the filters every three months to minimize airborne pollutants in your living space. Most times, they have a MERV rating of six to eight.
Better than fiberglass and electrostatic filters, pleated air filters can catch 70-90% of airborne particles in your home between three and 10 microns. They are made from cotton paper or polyester. Air filters with more pleats can provide better coverage. Pleated air filters require replacement every three months like electrostatic filters. Their MERV rating ranges from six to 13.
High-Efficiency Air Filters
The most effective filters for residential air conditioning and heating systems are high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. They can trap pollen, smoke, pet dander, dust mites and other small particles. With a MERV rating of nine to 16, you can also find them in vacuums and air purifiers.
HEPA filters can reduce the likelihood of allergy and asthma attacks by removing most airborne allergens and pollutants in your indoor air. They don’t emit harmful byproducts like other air filters. Another benefit of HEPA filters is that they can remove odors from your space, especially those from harmful chemicals like formaldehyde.
Determine the Right Filter for Your Unit
Before purchasing anything, make sure to read your equipment manual. It pays to invest in filters that can remove the most percentage of air contaminants without hindering airflow. Disposables are the most common type of HVAC filters, typically made from layers of cotton, fiberglass, polyester or paper. Frames surround them, which you slide into an opening into your ductwork. You can also get adjustable filters if you have a non-standard opening.
For air filters to work properly, they must be appropriately sized for your air conditioning and heating system. You can find the right filter size for your equipment in the owner’s manual. Another option is to check your current filter. The size is usually marked on the filter or you can measure it manually if necessary.
Consider the Needs of Your Household
When choosing an HVAC filter, don’t forget the needs of your household. If you have a large household, pets or family members with asthma or allergies, you may need a certain type of air filter. Either way, it’s always best to get the highest quality filter that fits your budget and needs. Some might come at a higher cost, but they can capture more allergens and contaminants, improving indoor air quality. The better the quality of your air filters, the less frequently you will need to replace them. When air filters get too dirty, they can restrict airflow in your HVAC system and make it work harder than it should.
If you’re still unsure which filter to get for your equipment, you can always seek assistance from reliable professionals. At Acker Heating & Cooling, we’re always ready to respond to your residential and commercial HVAC needs. Call us at (706) 715-2607 or fill out our contact form to request an appointment.