What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Air Filters

Did you know that air filters are one of the most important elements of your HVAC system? It’s true.  Air filters have two main, and very important, functions:

  1. Improving Indoor Air Quality. The air that circulates through your HVAC system flows through the air filters, trapping air borne debris and cleaning the air inside your home.
  2. Keeping the HVAC System Clean.  The air filters also keep dust, dirt, and debris from clogging up the furnace’s heat exchanger or the air conditioner’s evaporator coil. Such clogs will restrict air flow, leading to reduced performance and higher energy bills. It can even cause a total breakdown of your HVAC system.

Because air filters have such an important role to play, you need to buy ones that will efficiently collect air pollutants and you need to clean or change them regularly.

Buying Air Filters – The MERV Rating

Air filters are given a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of between 1 and 16. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the more and the smaller particles it will trap.

As a means of comparison, the washable foam filters that come with most HVAC units have a MERV rating of between 1 and 4. But a pleated filter has a MERV rating of between 5 and 8. Pleated filters have more of an area to catch dust and debris, so they are able to trap more and smaller particles than washable foam filters. But you can buy air filters that go all the way up to 16. (Filters that have the highest MERV ratings are sometimes called allergy filters.)

Caring for Air Filters

But buying high-efficiency air filters is worthless if you don’t properly care for them. If you don’t clean or replace your air filters regularly, the accumulated particles will make your system have to work harder. This will reduce the performance of your HVAC system, raise your energy bills, and lead to equipment malfunctions.

To prevent these negative consequences caused by dirty air filters, you need to clean or change them every 3 months as needed. (You should, however, examine the air filters once a month).

Buying the correct type of air filters and properly caring for them will improve the indoor air quality of your home and will protect your valuable HVAC system.

And it’s so easy!


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