While you might know how important your HVAC is to maintaining your home’s comfort, you may need to pay more attention to your air filters. Even if you regularly change your air filters, you might not know precisely what filter is suitable for your home. Using aguide to air filters can help you get high-quality, fitting air filters for your house. With the right filters, you’ll breathe easier and have a cleaner home.
You need to get the right air filter type, size and efficiency rating for maximum air filter effectiveness. Understanding these air filter factors will help you know what air filter you need. Explore our air filter buying guide and enjoy the benefits of good air filters all year.
What Do HVAC Air Filters Do?
HVAC air filters are essential to maintaining clean and comfortable air in your home. Air filters trap pollen, dander, dirt, dust and other particulates that float around your home. Without the air filters, these particles could travel freely through your vents, going all over your home and irritating your household’s breathing. You can enjoy clean, breathable air year-round with a high-quality air filter.
Where Are Home Air Filters Located?
Your home’s air filter will sit right behind the cover for the return duct. The return duct is where the HVAC system draws in air. It’s usually much larger than your other air vents. You can take the vent cover off and remove the air filter behind it. Then, replace the filter and insert the new one where the old filter was sitting. Some homes have multiple return ducts, so ensure you have enough air filter replacements for your entire home.
Home Air Filter Types
Each air filter type has a different price point and features. Spending more on a high-end air filter can improve air quality and ensure a longer filter life. Other homeowners might want to save money upfront with a cheaper model, although these will have less effective particle trapping and lower life spans. Ask your HVAC technician for air filter recommendations if you’re unsure about the right air filter for your needs.
Types of air filters for your home include:
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass, flat-panel air filters are some of the most affordable air filters available. Fiberglass fibers are stretched over a metal grating, which reinforces the fiberglass to ensure it holds its shape. They catch larger particles well, are easy to install and come in disposable options.
- Pleated: Pleated filters have plastic or cotton fibers laid together densely along the filter. Instead of a flat shape, these filters are pleated, giving them more filtration area in the same space. More pleats and filtration space means these filters catch and hold more particles than stand-flat fiberglass filters, which accounts for their slightly higher price point.
- Washable: Washable filters are reusable air filters that come in pleated and flat options. You can vacuum or hose them to clean them off when they get too dirty. You’ll need to replace them eventually, but they last longer than disposable filters.
- Electrostatic: Filters also come in electrostatic options for better particle-trapping. Electrostatic charges help attract and catch bacteria, pollen and smoke. Electrostatic filters come in flat, pleated and washable options. However, washable electrostatic filters will lose their charge over time or with multiple cleanings.
Air Filter Sizes
If you have the wrong-sized filter, it either won’t fit or will allow particles to get through gaps in the sides. Your HVAC technician can advise you on the best filter size for your home. Additionally, each air filter will have the size information printed on it somewhere. Most homes have room for a 1-inch deep filter, but there are other options for homes.
Make sure the filter fits snugly in the correct space — there should be no gaps around the filter for the best filtration job. If your filter is too deep or not large enough, it won’t perform correctly.
HVAC Efficiency Ratings
Your air filter’s minimum efficiency reporting values (MERVs) let you know how effective it is at trapping particles of specific sizes. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter catches large and small particles. MERV ratings go from 1 to 16. Each rating has specific percentages for the amount of a certain-sized particulate they will catch. Since debris floating through the air comes in different sizes, you’ll want to select a filter that effectively traps most of the particulates you’re concerned about.
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are the best filters for catching particles. These filters are up to 99.97% effective at catching particles that are 0.3 microns in size. These filters effectively catch particulates better than filters of other ratings, making them more expensive but well worth it for clean air.
Replacing Air Filters
Over time, your air filters will become too old and clogged with debris. Air filters effectively trap particles by holding onto them. Eventually, the air filter will be too full of particles to perform its job correctly. Swapping out old filters for new ones can reduce AC energy consumption by 5 to 15%, giving you significant savings. Replacing air filters regularly helps keep your air clean and ensures your air filters are performing correctly.
Changing your air filters regularly is one of the best ways to extend your HVAC system’s life. Old air filters can block airflow, making your system work harder, and they can push debris back into your house. You should clean or replace your air filters every month or two during the months of heaviest air conditioning use. While this might seem like a lot, keeping your filter clear is essential to protect your air quality and air conditioner’s life.
Since you need to swap out your air filters regularly, it can be much more convenient and effective to invest in an HVAC maintenance plan that swaps out your air filters for you. Life gets busy, and it can be challenging to remember when you need to clean or swap your air filter. HVAC technicians can come in and take care of your air filters for you. Additionally, they’ll perform tune-ups and check in on your HVAC system to ensure everything else is working correctly. Maintenance plans catch minor repairs before they become expensive, saving you money.
Enjoy Better Home Air With Metro Services HVAC
Getting the right air filters is just the first step to better home air quality — you must regularly change your filters to ensure your HVAC works efficiently and your home air stays clean. Metro Services HVAC home air filter services keep your air filters and HVAC system in top condition for a more comfortable home. Our high-quality maintenance plans offer you access to discounts, regular professional maintenance and 24/7 emergency services. If you’re in Maryland or Washington, D.C., contact us for expert HVAC services today!