What You Should Know About HVAC Air Filters
HVAC air filters come in various shapes, sizes, and efficiency ratings. Many homeowners are flummoxed when they visit their local home improvement store for new air filters only to come up against a massive wall of different types (don’t take this decision lightly). It’s vital to purchase the right sized filter that is suitable to your filtration needs. This can be a daunting task.
Why is it essential to regularly maintain HVAC filters?
Your HVAC system is not half as good without a clean and working HVAC filter. Cleaning, maintaining, and replacing HVAC filters is an easy task and one that can be easily performed by a Bay Area homeowner. This can ensure that your HVAC performs the way it is supposed to and remains energy efficient.
In addition, clean HVAC filters can also help prevent costly repairs that could be caused by putting an additional strain on the HVAC system. Without a clean filter the system and its various components could struggle to circulate and condition air.
What are MERV Ratings?
MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating that indicates the effectiveness of an air filter to remove airborne particulates. Rating between 1 and 4 are given to washable air filters that are successful in trapping carpet fibers, pet hair, and other large sized debris at best.
Rating that falls between 13 and 20 is considered to be the highest. These air filters can trap bacteria, tobacco smoke (which is awesome for those people who live with someone who smokes), and particulates measuring less than 0.30 pm.
While you may want to purchase the highest MERV rated air filter, it is important that you never exceed the recommended MERV rating for your system. High-MERV filters are extremely dense and can have a negative effect on your system. This can lead to air leakages in areas that have less resistance.
Using the wrong MERV rating air filter can also lead to more fatigue on the system and an increase in energy use. Chances of freezing coil are also high.
Types of Air Filters Explained
There are several types of HVAC air filters:
Flat-Paneled Fiberglass Filters
These filters have a low MERV rating. They are disposable and contain a metal reinforcing grate with layered fiberglass. The air filters are inexpensive and don’t do much towards air purification.
Pleated Media Filter
These disposable filters carry a MERV rating between 5 and 13. They contain pleats that increase the surface area and filtration efficiency. They might not be on the same level as a HEPA filter, but they do offer less airflow resistance and are quite effective in suppressing fan noise which correlates with less stress and a higher quality of life.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration HEPA filters offer the highest level of protection. The filters have the capability to trap particles as small as 0.3 microns. They can catch nearly 99.97% of all air borne particles. Generally, HEPA filters come with a MERV rating between 17 and 20.
Reusable Air Filters
Reusable air filters are washable and more expensive. The only drawback with these filters is a low MERV rating between 1 and 4. They may also attract mold growth if a damp filter is installed.