Choosing the Best Air Filter for Your HVAC System

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Choosing the Best Filter

Choosing the optimal filter is important but not difficult. It depends on the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). If the MERV is too low for your system, the filter will not remove the majority of the pollutants in your air. If the MERV is too high, it will restrict the airflow.

Air filters for typical residential use are made from either spun fiberglass or pleated cotton-polyester. The fiberglass filters have a MERV rating of 2. Pleated filters have a MERV rating of 7 or 8. Filters with at least 18 pleats are best for a home.

The inexpensive blue fiberglass filters only capture the largest particles. They remove about 10 percent of contaminants. They are meant to protect your HVAC system but they will not clean the air substantially. If you use the cheapest type you can find, you will need to replace it so often that it makes more sense to buy a better filter that will last for a few months. You should change a 1-inch fiberglass filter once a month. A pleated filter can last three months or more. If your system uses a 3- to 5-inch filter, it could last as long as 12 months.

If you have pets or an allergy to dust, mold or pollen, you need a pleated filter. Because they have a greater surface area, pleated filters can trap smaller particles. They remove up to 45 percent of pollutants from your home. A Katy HVAC repair or Sugar Land air conditioning service such as All Out A/C & Heating can recommend the best filter for your system.

High-efficiency air filters with MERV ratings of 10 to 16 clean the air as they remove the pollutants. However, they should be used with caution. They are designed for special filter panels or air purifiers that are located beside the air handler, furnace or blower. As the air in your home is re-circulated through the filter, it becomes cleaner with every pass. High-efficiency air filters can remove up to 85 percent of indoor air pollutants. Your wallet will breathe a sigh of relief because your HVAC system will perform better if you use a high-efficiency air filter.

The very best filters are High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters with a MERV rating of 17 to 20. They are frequently used in hospitals. Unfortunately, HEPA filters cannot be used as a standard furnace filter because a typical HVAC system is not strong enough to push the air through a HEPA filter. They are meant to be used in a standalone air purifier or a whole-house filtration system.

When you install a new filter, write the date on the frame. If it is very dirty after two months, you need to change it every month. If it is still clean after one month, you can probably wait six to eight weeks. If you are unsure, call All Cool A/C & Heating at 281-238-9292. We can answer all your questions, maintain your current system or install a new one. We are also available around the clock for emergency repairs.