If you have a heating and cooling system, you have air filters. An air filter's primary job is to prevent large airborne particles from entering or clogging your HVAC system. Some air filters do also do the job of preventing certain allergens and pollutants from recirculating throughout your home's duct system, however that is not their main role.
Most heating and cooling experts would agree that changing your filter should be a regular part of home maintenance, and doing so, will help increase the lifespan of your unit. It's one of the easiest and most affordable ways you can protect your investment.
With so many types of air filters on the market, how do you determine which one is best for your system? You can start by knowing the answers to these questions.
What’s the Size of My Air Filter?
Size is important! There are many types of returns and system manufacturers. It's a good idea to make note of all the replacement filters you need for your home. This makes purchasing and replacing filters much easier and reduces the risk of buying the wrong filter for your home. How do you know the size? The quickest and easiest way to do this is to look on your current filter. The size specifications are usually listed on the side of the filter. If for some reason it’s not easily located, the information is also available in your HVAC owner’s manual.
What Are MERV Ratings?
All air filters have a common rating system called the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Rating Value. This industry standard rating systems allows consumers to effectively compare different filters made by competing manufacturers. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter removes small particles in the air.
Every system is different, so it's a good idea to ask your current HVAC professional what they would recommend with your unit. Generally, a MERV rating between 7 and 13 are sufficient enough for the residential home, as filters with these rating levels effectively reduce allergens, dust, and other pollutants from the air. It's important to note that using an air filter with an exceptionally high MERV rating can restrict airflow and that's why you should use the rating recommended by the manufacturer or your HVAC service provider.
What Types of Air Filters Are Available?
Now that you know the size of your filter and are familiar with MERV ratings – which type of filter do you choose?
Flat surface or pleated? While flat surface air filters allow for greater air flow, they don't trap as many pollutants and need to be changed more often. Pleated air filters can remove up to 45 percent of the air pollutants in your home. All are available in a variety of materials, like fiberglass and polyester. Check out this great overview from the folks at Angie's List to learn more.
As mentioned above, changing your air filter is crucial step in maintaining the life of your HVAC system. The majority of filters should be changed every 30-60 days, However, if you have pets or are prone to allergies, it's recommended that you change it more often. The important thing to keep in mind is that filters need changing. Changing your air filter is a great preventative measure, it improves energy efficiency and the overall health of your home.
Still unsure about what type of replacement filter you should use? Contact one of our heating and cooling experts online or give us a call at 804-715-1995 and we'd be happy to help!