When it comes to your HVAC system, you want to ensure that you use the best possible air filter. But with all of the different types and brands of filters on the market, how can you be sure you’re making the right choice? One of the first questions homeowners will often ask is: Does it matter?

HVAC air filter

This blog post will introduce you to the different types of air filters available and their pros and cons. By the end, you’ll know exactly which kind of filter is right for your HVAC system and how your choice may affect your unit.

Home HVAC Maintenance: Changing Out Your Filter

Home HVAC maintenance is necessary to prolong the life of your system and improve indoor air quality. One critical part of HVAC maintenance is regularly changing out your air filter. The right filter can enhance the air quality, extend the life of your HVAC system, and save money. Unfortunately, the wrong filter can do the opposite. So, how do you choose the right filter for your HVAC system, and are you overthinking it?

Filter Considerations

When choosing an HVAC filter, you must consider a few things, including the filter type, size, and the MERV rating.

Type of Filter

Several different types of filters are available on the market, including flat-panel, pleated, electrostatic, washable, and HEPA filters.

Size of Filter

The size of your filter is just as important as the type of filter you choose. If your filter is too small, it will become clogged quickly and won’t be able to clean the air effectively. If your filter is too large, it won’t fit properly in your HVAC system and could cause expensive damage. Be sure to measure your HVAC system before purchasing a new filter to ensure you get the right size.

MERV Rating

The MERV rating measures a filter’s ability to remove particles from the air. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective the filter will be at removing particulates. Furthermore, higher-rated filters will capture the tiniest particles and the highest percentage of these particles. However, it’s important to note that a high MERV rating doesn’t necessarily mean that a particular filter is suitable for your home. Filters with higher MERV ratings can make your unit work harder.

A filter with a higher MERV rating can damage your HVAC system by restricting airflow. Specialized filters like that aren’t needed for the average home. The real problem is forgetting to change these high-resistance filters as often as you should. A good rule of thumb is to change your filter every three months or sooner if it becomes clogged. You’ll likely have to change these higher-rated filters more often because they capture more contaminants and will probably “clog” faster.

types of hVAC air filters

Discussing Filter Type

We mentioned the four main types of filters but did not discuss their defining characteristics. Therefore, here is more information on each type of filter so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your home.

Pleated filters are more efficient than flat-panel filters and can capture smaller particles. Electrostatic filters use static electricity to attract and capture airborne pollutants. Homeowners can reuse washable filters after washing them in soap and water. HEPA filters are the most efficient type and can remove up to 99.97% of particulates from the air.

Flat-Panel Filters

Flat-panel filters are the most basic type of filter and are typically made of fiberglass or synthetic media layer over a metal grid. They’re the least expensive option on the market, but they also have the shortest lifespan and are less effective at trapping airborne particles than other types of filters.

Pleated Filters

Pleated filters have layers of media folded like an accordion. This folding design gives pleated filters more surface area to trap particles, making them more effective than flat-panel filters. Pleated filters also have a longer lifespan than flat-panel filters, but they cost more upfront.

Reusable Filters

Homeowners can reuse reusable or washable filters after washing them with soap and water. Their initial investment is lower than other types of filters, but they lose their effectiveness over time. Electrostatic filters are a sub-type of reusable filters and use static electricity to attract and capture particles in the air. They’re very effective at removing contaminants from the air but also need regular cleaning to prevent overloading.

HEPA Filters

In addition to these three primary filters, there are HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. HEPA filters remove 99.97% of all particles that are 0.3 microns or larger from the air passing through them. They’re often used in homes with allergies or asthma because of their ability to remove such a high percentage of airborne particles from the air. So, these filters would be standard in hospitals, laboratories, and other places requiring a sterile environment. However, not all HVAC systems can handle these highly dense filters.

Choosing the Right Filter for Your Home

Now, let’s look at how to choose the right one for your home; the first step is to identify the type of filter you need. If you have allergies or asthma, you may want to consider using a HEPA filter, but don’t assume it will fit your unit. You’ll need to check the manufacturer’s specifications for your HVAC system to see if it can accommodate a HEPA filter.

A flat-panel filter may be the way to go if you’re looking for a more affordable option. These filters typically need to be replaced more often, but they don’t cost as much upfront; however, as we mentioned, you won’t get the same level of particle removal as you would with a more expensive option. If you have pets, you may want to consider using a pleated filter.

These filters are more effective at trapping pet dander, dust, and other allergens. Reusable filters are a good option if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly solution. Finally, consider the level of filtration you need. For example, you’ll want to choose a filter with a higher MERV rating if you have severe allergies.

Looking For Air Conditioning Services in Hickory, NC?

If you need air conditioning repair or replacement in Hickory, NC, look no further than Hickory Heating and Cooling Repair LLC. We’re a local air conditioning company providing high-quality air conditioning services to Hickory, North Carolina, residents, and surrounding areas. With a combined experience level of over 70 years, we can advise you on the best types of air filters for your HVAC system. Contact Hickory Heating and Cooling Repair LLC for all your air conditioning needs!