Is it time to replace the air filter in your forced-air HVAC system? The air quality inside your home can be negatively impacted by a dirty or clogged filter. Energy efficiency is also adversely affected, and your cooling or heating equipment will have to work harder to force air through a dirty filter. When air filter shopping, you’ll likely notice that several different types of filters are available. So how do you choose the right air filter for your home?
First, become acquainted with the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of air filters. This scale, running from 1-16 for residential filters, measures how well a filter will capture particles of difference sizes. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles a filter will capture. Measure your old filter to assure a proper fit and be aware of the properties of each type of filter. Here are some types of air filters:
Types of Filters
- Fiberglass, flat-panel air filters – This is a basic flat filter that protects your HVAC equipment from large dust particles, but doesn’t do much to improve air quality. Lint, dust mites and other smaller particles will continue to circulate through your home. These usually come in MERV 1-4.
- Pleated air filters – These pleated and polyester filters capture more pollutants than a flat-panel filter. This is made possible because of the pleated folds that create more surface area, both for capturing airborne particulates and allowing airflow through the filter. Smaller particles are trapped by this design, which usually runs in the MERV 7-12 range.
- Washable air filters – The washable material requires regular maintenance to keep this filter working properly. Fungus and bacteria can collect easily on the filter and than circulate into your home.
- High-efficiency air filters – Made from polyester fibers or pleated paper, these air filters can capture very small pollutants such as dust and pollen. However the dense nature of this filter can restrict airflow through your HVAC system, and isn’t usually advisable (or possible) without some equipment modifications. These run in the MERV 13-16 range, and have some of the same system limitations as HEPA filters (MERV 17-20).
If you have questions about air filter shopping or any home comfort issues, please contact us at Ernst Heating & Cooling. We’ve been serving Hamel and other southwest Illinois communities since 1951.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Alton, Glen Carbon, Highland, Greenville, Bethalto, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Maryville, Staunton and Troy, Illinois about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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