Routine maintenance is essential to keep your home’s HVAC system running properly. One of the easiest, and most important, aspects of furnace maintenance is keeping the air filter clean. Not only does a clean air filter improve the quality of the air in your home, it also helps your HVAC system perform at peak efficiency. A dirty filter will restrict the flow of air, which can cause your HVAC system to fail. That’s why experts say that HVAC air filters need to be changed every 30 to 60 days. The problem is, choosing the right one can be a challenge.
Types of HVAC Filters
There are a few different types of HVAC filters that will filter the air and improve your HVAC system’s performance. Some are very inexpensive, and readily available at a local home improvement store, other options require installation by a trained professional. Here are some tips to help make the choice easier for you.
This the most common type of HVAC air filter since they’re both widely available and inexpensive. These filters are created from fiberglass strands that are held together in a frame. They’re good at catching large airborne particles like dust, but they aren’t able to purify the air like some of the other types of filters available.
These filters can be polyester, paper, or cotton. The material is folded into accordian-like pleats which increases the surface area. That means they are able to capture dust, dirt, pet dander, dust mites and even hair before it enters the HVAC system. They’re available in both washable and disposable forms.
The majority of the HVAC filters available for residential units carry a MERV rating. MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and it’s used to describe the level of filtration a filter provides. MERV rankings range from 1 to 16 and the higher the ranking, the better the filter performs.
HEPA filters are very good at trapping airborne contaminants. Because of the densely packed fibers, they’re able to remove up to 99.7 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. They virtually eliminate allergens, dust, dirt, and other irritants from the air before they reach the HVAC system for improved air quality.
Which Filter Is Best?
The answer to that question depends upon the manufacturer’s recommendation, what you expect from the filter, and ultimately your budget.
Before you go out and buy a new HVAC air filter, take the time to read your owner’s manual. You’ll not only find instructions for changing the filter, but also recommendations about the size and type of filter to use. They’ve tested the different types of filters and they know which ones work best.
Your Air Quality Needs
Indoor air quality can have a major impact on people who suffer with allergies or other breathing problems. If this is the case for someone in your household, consider a filter that removes more particles from the air. If not, then a less expensive, fiberglass filter may well satisfy your needs.
What’s Your Budget?
HVAC air filters start at a few dollars each for the fiberglass type while the higher-end filters have a heftier price tag. While it’s true in this case that you get what you pay for, you don’t have to break the bank to make an improvement. If you’re on a tight budget, an inexpensive, new filter is better than a clogged high end filter.
Your HVAC system works hard all year to keep your family comfortable and it needs a little attention from time to time. Make sure that you’re checking your air filters and changing them regularly to ensure the air flows freely. You’ll save money on your utility bills because your unit will run more efficiently and it will extend the life of your HVAC system. Contact us if you want more information about HVAC filters and we’ll be happy to help you make the right choice for your system.