A Complete Guide to HVAC Filters
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A Complete Guide to HVAC Filters

Your A/C has undoubtedly gotten you through some searing summers, but the whole system would be a dusty, dripping mess without high-quality HVAC filters. The HVAC or air filter, the term is interchangeable, is an important but often overlooked component of your HVAC system. It’s because of it that your A/C runs smoothly and efficiently all summer

The primary role of air filters is to trap dust, pollen, dirt, and other particles and prevent them from getting into the system and into the air that you breathe. In doing so, they ensure only clean, pollutant-free air runs through your system for optimum indoor air quality. Although your A/C can run without a filter, it won’t work as it should.

With so many different ratings, numbers, and types, picking an air filter for your home is easier said than done. You could always go for the cheapest or the first one you stumble upon, but that’s not such a great approach. If you choose to be meticulous with your shopping, you can even find an air filter that blocks allergens and even odors.

In today’s post, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about HVAC filters. Hopefully, this will help you pick the right one for your home.

How Does an HVAC Filter Works?

Before we get into the complex stuff, let’s first get a concrete understanding of how HVAC filters work. As the name suggests, HVAC filters are filters for your HVAC system that protect through filtration. They offer two levels of protection:

Level-One Protection: This means they act as a shield for your entire HVAC system. The filters act as a protective layer against airborne particles like dust, dirt, and pollen from entering your HVAC. Accumulation of the said particles inside your system could damage the internal components.

Level-Two Protection: The second level of protection is protecting from poor indoor air quality. Air filters help keep indoor pollutants and allergens at bay to ensure optimum air quality inside your home. This is great for preserving your family’s health and well-being.

As mentioned earlier, HVAC systems can work without filters, but you risk running into a heap of problems if you choose that path. The most obvious effect of running an HVAC without a filter is air quality deterioration and condensation issues. To be on the safe side, buy a high-quality air filter for your HVAC system.

What Are the Types of HVAC Filters?

Most HVAC filters are disposable, meaning you use them for a while and then have to replace them with a new one once it is full. Knowing the types of air filters is imperative to making the right choice when getting ordering your filters.

Disposable air filters usually have pleats that act as a mesh for trapping airborne particles. Fiberglass disposable filters, on the other hand, don’t have pleats and don’t have the same filtering capability. Manufacturers design most air filters for single-use; it would be unwise to use them more than once.

If disposable air filters aren’t your fancy, you can go with a reusable air filter. With reusable filters, you have to remove, wash, then dry them out before you can reinstall them back into the system. They are more expensive upfront but can save you money over the long run.

Common HVAC Filter Ratings and Sizes

The different numbers and abbreviations are likely to perplex you when shopping for HVAC filters. Filters come in all different sizes and dimensions. It’s important that you find an air filter that is a snug fit for your system.

Dimensions aside, there are also other parameters you need to keep in mind when shopping for an HVAC filter. Manufacturers use abbreviations and numbers to denote these different specifications.

The most common abbreviation you’ll encounter is MERV which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. This is a measure of the filter’s effectiveness in filtering out contaminants. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective the filter.

With that said, here are a few MERV ranges you should be familiar with.

MERV 1-4: These are the least effective HVAC filters and also the least expensive. They mostly consist of fiberglass material. These filters can capture:

  • Lint
  • Dust
  • Pollen

MERV 5-8: These filters are a step above MERV 1-4 and provide considerable filtration. These filters capture:

  • Lint
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Dust Mites
  • Mold

MERV 9-12: These filters provide high-quality filtration that’s enough to keep most contaminants out of your air. Most HVAC experts recommend these filter for most homes because they can capture:

  • Lint
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Dust Mites
  • Mold
  • Bacteria
  • Pet Dander
  • Smog

MERV 13-16: These filters have extremely high filtration capability, making them suitable for industrial applications. Their filtration capability is too much for residential use, plus it’s too expensive for regular homeowners.

These air filters can capture:

  • Lint
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Dust Mites
  • Mold
  • Bacteria
  • Pet Dander
  • Smog
  • Aerosols
  • Smoke
  • Virus Carriers

MERV 9-12 filters work best for all kinds of residential setups. However, if you’re on a budget, you can get MERV 5-8 filters for good air filtration and a good price.

When Is the Best Time to Replace Your HVAC Filter?

As a rule of thumb, make a point of replacing your HVAC filter every three months. However, for periods when your A/C or furnace runs more than usual, you will have to swap filters more regularly. For periods like summer, consider replacing your air filter every month; you should do the same during winter.

HVAC Filters in a Nutshell

The information above should get you up to speed with everything you need to know about HVAC filters. For the best indoor air quality, be sure you change your air filter at least once every three months. Also, remember to keep the MERV ratings and dimensions in mind when replacing your air filters for the best effect.

In your search for the best air filter for your home, shop AIRx Filters for high-quality, American-made filters at a great price. They have the MERV rating and exact size for your home!

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