If you have been down the air filter aisle of your local home improvement store lately, you know there are many different types and efficiency levels of HVAC filters to choose from. You may wonder if you’re using the right air filter for your home’s cooling or heating system, or whether you should choose a better quality one from now on. Use this guide to choose the best option for your home.
Why Changing the Filter Is Important
Operating your forced-air HVAC equipment with a dirty air filter will impede air flowing through the system, reducing efficiency, wasting energy and stressing parts. Most experts recommend inspecting the filter monthly, and changing it when it looks dirty or three months pass, whichever comes first. If you live in a dusty area, or have long-haired pets or smokers in the house, you’ll likely have to change the filter every month. The same applies if the HVAC equipment is running constantly.
Types of Filters
There are four main types of HVAC air filters available on the market. Most filters are rated on the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale. For residential filters, the rating system runs from 1-16, with the high-end filters typically reserved for special air quality demands. The higher the number, the smaller the particles the filter will capture but also the greater the risk of restricting airflow. MERV ratings between 9 and 12 are usually a good option for homeowners, providing good air-cleaning qualities while not restarting airflow. The four main types:
- Fiberglass filters. Flat-panel fiberglass filters have a very low MERV rating (1-4). They have virtually no effect on the air quality in your home, and just keep the largest dust particles out of your equipment.
- Pleated filters. In general, these filters have a decent MERV rating for home use, and usually only cost a few dollars more than their inferior fiberglass counterparts. The pleats or folds provide greater surface area for capturing particulates and allowing air to flow through.
- Washable air filters. These are usually considered the worst type of filter to get for your home. They require a lot of maintenance and don’t do any better job of filtering your air than the more convenient replaceable filters.
- High-efficiency filters. These filters have the highest MERV rating but usually will require system modifications to work with your forced-air system. Consult a professional before opting for filters in the MERV 14-16 range.
For more information on choosing the right air filter for your home, contact our experts at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We have been serving the Greater Indianapolis area for more than 40 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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