Air Filters: Finding the Right One for Your Home

Once a month, or perhaps more or less often, we change our home air filters. It is a simple-enough task that doesn’t require a call to a professional to complete and that can have major benefits for your home’s air quality and efficiency, not to mention it keeps your home cleaner. The thing is, you can’t just buy any air filter and expect that it will work for your air system. There are various factors that need to be considered, such as type, size, and filtration needs. Every home and home air system is different and has different requirements of air filters. Here is a run-down of the basics to help you find the right filter for your home. 

A leading factor in determining the type of filter you should buy ought to be the number of dust and debris particles in the house. If you live with pets, people who smoke, or people who have allergies, then your home will need a more substantial air filter or a filter with a high MERV rating, which is a rating that measures the efficiency of the filter at removing particles from the air passing through it. 

There are five standard types of home air filters: 

  1. Fiberglass Filters – Also called “Mechanical” filters, these are the easiest to find and most readily available filters on the market. They are very cost-effective, so they don’t break the bank; and are easy to install. The problem with them is that they are the least effective type of filter when it comes to actually filtering the air. These have a MERV rating of 1 to 4 and only filter about 10 percent of pollutants, allowing all kinds of dirt, debris, molecules, and mites to pass through repeatedly. These come at a depth of only one to two inches. 
  2. Pleated Filters – People who suffer from allergies may require this type of filter. Pleated filters are denser than fiberglass filters, trapping 30 to 45 percent of pollutants and particles. This is because they have more fibers per square inch. They have a MERV rating of 10 to 13 and a price range of ten to fifteen dollars. 
  3. Electrostatic Filters – These filters are rather self-explanatory, using electricity to attract and trap particles within them. Electrostatic filters are great at trapping larger particles like dust and debris; though, they are not as effective when it comes to smaller particles like smoke. These filters have a lifespan ranging from three to six months with a MERV rating of 12 to 16. 
  4. HEPA Filters – That’s short for High Efficiency Particulate Air filters.  These filters are the best you can get. They trap up to 97 percent of particles and allergens and have a MERV rating of 17 to 20. There is a downside to this type, though. With such a fine mesh, these filters can actually restrict airflow; and they can actually cause your heating and cooling costs to go up. 
  1. Washable Filters – While the most economical option, washable filters can be somewhat counterproductive. With a MERV rating of only 1 to 4, they don’t prevent as many particles from passing through. These filters actually work better when dirty, relying on the buildup of debris to catch other debris. They need to be cleaned regularly, as mold and bacteria can grow on them, but cleaning decreases their effectiveness. 

A good rule of thumb when looking for a new filter is to do your research. If you aren’t sure what type of filter to purchase, contact your system servicer. 

If you are curious about what filter your system needs, call A/C Masters or visit our website to schedule an appointment online.