The air filter on your heating and air conditioning system can play an important role in removing dust, pollen, mold and other pollutants from your indoor environment. Your choice in air filters will determine the filter’s effectiveness. The best filter for your particular home will be one that filters out the greatest number of pollutants while still allowing adequate air flow to your system.
What do I need to consider when selecting an air filter?
All air filters are not created equal! When selecting a filter, you should consider the effectiveness of the type of filter, the filtering efficiency rating referred to as the MERV rating, as well as your specific equipment manufacturer guidelines.
Air Filter Types
Panel Filters are typically made of spun fiberglass and only trap the very largest particles. Many home and business owners are still buying the panel filters only because they do not realize the filters are virtually ineffective and that much better options are available.
Pleated Filters are much more effective at trapping particles due to the denser material and increased surface area. With pleated air filters, the surface area is more than doubled. This means that there is a much greater surface area available to capture airborne particles. Pleated filter prices are still inexpensive, even though they are a bit more expensive than the panel filter. Like panel filters, pleated filters are disposable. At this time, a good pleated filter is the best option for most homes.
HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Filters seem like they would do an even better job at filtering out more particles because the material is much denser. Technically, they do; however, in residential HVAC equipment, they cause a significant decrease in air flow because the filter material is denser. In this case, too much of a good thing can quickly become a bad thing. HVAC equipment requires adequate air flow to function properly. Although, HEPA filters may be suited for hospitals or other settings with commercial HVAC equipment, they are not recommended for use in residential HVAC systems.
Reusable Filters seem like they would be an excellent environmentally friendly choice because they reduce waste going to the landfill. Unfortunately, consumer demand has not caused the makers to improve the existing technology. With the large spaces between the filter material, the reusable air filters on the market are not as effective in trapping particles as their pleated counterparts. Improvements in design are needed to make reusable filters an efficient choice.
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is the standard rating system for HVAC air filters. MERV Ratings range from 1-16. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient in trapping airborne particles. General guidelines for suitable uses of filters with corresponding MERV ratings are below.
- MERV Rating 5-8 Good for Residential
- MERV Rating 9-12 Superior for Residential; Good for Commercial
- MERV Rating 13-16 Hospital & Surgery
Always, refer to your HVAC manufacturer information for requirements. Keep in mind that most residential HVAC equipment does not have enough fan or motor capacity to adequately circulate air using the highest efficiency filters.
How frequently should I change my air filter?
Inspect your air filters regularly. All filters will have a recommended change frequency. This will differ depending on the brand and filter. Use the suggested frequency as a guideline, keeping in mind that the need will vary depending on seasonal and usage factors. We recommend that you check your filter every month to 45 days and change as needed. Some programmable thermostats have a feature that calculates this information based on run time of the unit and will notify you when it is time to change the filter.
A clean and properly functioning quality filter will trap pollutants and improve the quality of the air that you breathe. A dirty filter becomes ineffective at removing air pollutants and will prevent adequate air flow to the unit, making the unit work harder to control the temperature in your environment. When the unit has to work harder, energy costs are increased and equipment life is decreased.
To schedule a repair or preventative maintenance appointment or for a free replacement equipment quote, call Comfort Climate Service at 205-712-7739. We provide quality service at competitive prices and service in the Millport, Vernon, Sulligent, Fayette and surrounding areas in Lamar, Fayette, and Pickens counties in Alabama.