Your AC filter is responsible for ensuring the safety and efficiency of your HVAC system. It’s crucial that you change out your filter often, depending on your lifestyle and who is in your home. But, it’s equally important to understand why your AC filter is essential to a happy and healthy HVAC system.
Give Your Unit (and your wallet) a Break
Your AC filter is designed with your wallet in mind. With regular AC maintenance and changing your filter frequently, your system can run efficiently. The risk of damage significantly decreases meaning costly repairs aren’t on the horizon. Plus, a clean air filter promotes better air flow, saving you money on costly energy costs! Blocked air flow from a dirty filter can cause your system to overwork itself and prevent air from reaching parts of your home.
Allergy and Pollution Control
A benefit of a clean air filter is the fact that your family can breathe more easily, especially those that have allergy or respiratory problems. It’s important you pay close attention to your filter if you want to make sure your air is the cleanest it can be. A buildup of potential allergens on your filter allows for pollutants to circulate through your system, making your air quality decrease and your unit work harder than it should. An easy way to monitor this is by checking and adjusting your MERV rating.
Every AC filter will have a MERV rating associated with it. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value and is used to measure how efficiently air can flow through the filter. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particle it can capture, but the less efficient it will be due to reduced air flow. This is an important consideration when deciding what is most important to your home.
Types of Filters
Not all homes require the same type of filter. Depending on your system and your needs, you can choose from a variety of filters that come in all shapes and sizes. But remember, filters are not designed with the “one-size-fits-all” mentality. You should consider how efficient you want your system to run and how important air quality is to you and your family members.
Fiberglass is a common type of filter because it’s the least expensive filter option available. However, fiberglass filters need to be changed more frequently due to the speed in which they become clogged with dust and dirt. They typically have a lower MERV rating due to their design to capture larger pollutants, meaning more air flow. One drawback is that they are less likely to capture small particles.
Pleated air filters have a higher MERV rating compared to fiberglass filters and can capture smaller particles that pass through your filter. These filters have a larger surface area due to their pleated design, allowing for a longer lifespan to capture dirt and dust. The more pleats there are per foot, the higher the quality your air will be.
High-efficiency filters are a great option for those needing extra attention to their home’s air quality. They typically have a MERV rating of 14-16, which is one of the highest values a filter can have. This means the smallest particles in your home won’t escape through the filter, but can also lead to more stress on your HVAC unit due to reduced air flow.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate arresting and these filters are most commonly found in hospital and medical settings for optimal air quality. HEPA filters have the highest MERV ratings compared to all air filters. They capture up to 98% of potential allergens and pollutants. But, you’ll need a separate HEPA filtration system for these filters.
Washable or Disposable?
There is no right answer when it comes to choosing between washable or disposable air filters. Both have advantages and drawbacks, so the choice depends on your lifestyle. Disposable air filters are a less expensive option and require little to no effort when it comes time to change your filter. Though, you’ll have to buy new filters every time you need to change them.
Washable filters are more expensive upfront, but you won’t have to buy a new one every time you need to change out your filter. But, be careful. Once you wash your filter to clean it, make sure it’s completely dry before you insert it back into your system. A wet filter will promote mold growth and that will do more harm than good when your indoor air quality. It’s a good idea to purchase two washable filters so you have a clean, dry one to replace your used one. You won’t have to worry about dry time or compromising the quality of your home’s air.
How to Change Your AC Filter
Homeowners are told time and time again that they need to change their AC filter, but when and how? The frequency you change your AC filter depends on your lifestyle and who lives in your home. For more information, check out our blog on when you should change your filter.
Locate Your AC Filter
In most systems, the filter will be located in your home’s return duct. If you aren’t sure where your HVAC system houses its filters, contact one of our technicians today to be sure you are looking in the right place!
Next, you’ll have to replace your dirty filter with a clean one. Take this time to make sure that your filter is in need of replacing. Also, make sure there is nothing strange about your system. You will then insert a new filter or, if you own a washable filter, insert a clean and dry filter.
Air Quality with Crystal Air & Water
Crystal Air & Water is dedicated to making sure the air in your home is to your satisfaction. Your AC filter is the first step in taking control over the quality of your home’s air, but it doesn’t have to stop there. If you have concerns about the quality of your indoor air, contact us today. We offer a variety of services to improve, monitor, or maintain your indoor air quality.