How to Choose the Best Air Filter for Your House

HVAC
Appraisal and Home Inspection
Small Projects and Repairs
By Contractors.com Team August 06, 2021

When remodeling or designing home interiors, most people focus on the visuals such as forms, shapes, colors, furniture, lighting, and room layout. These elements can make or break the interior and how it looks so it only makes sense a lot of consideration is put into those decisions. Unfortunately, however, many homeowners tend to overlook the HVAC and more specifically, the air filtration system, which also plays a significant role in how you enjoy the interior of your home.

The sleekest, lavish, and gorgeous interiors can easily be marred with a faulty air filter. Bad smells, noise, and dust can easily undermine even the trendiest interior designs. But by paying a little more attention to which air filters you choose you can completely bypass these potential issues and create a perfectly serene environment in your home. 

Air Filter Types

There are several types of HVAC air filters that you should know about in order to help find the one that is right for you. Getting the right air filter will allow you to make the best of your ventilation system, as well as keep unwanted air particles from circulating through your home.

Flat-Panel

The Most Common Type of Air Filter, But Cliché is Cliché For a Reason

The Most Common Type of Air Filter, But Cliché is Cliché For a Reason

These are by far the most common types of air filters you can come across. They are simple, affordable, and come with the most standard ventilation systems that you purchase. Since ventilation manufacturers are required by law to provide a filter along with the vent, these are the ones you will find in most HVAC systems, as most people don’t bother changing them after purchase.

They are usually created from fiberglass and are relatively good at filtering the air. Because this is the most affordable air filter and comes with most ventilation systems does not by default does it is necessarily a bad one. A flat panel filter will keep some amount of air impurities from getting through, but if you wish to keep the air in your home as clean as possible, you will need something a little better.

Pleated

Pros of Having a Pleated Air Filter Installed

Pros of Having a Pleated Air Filter Installed

Pleated air filters, much like their flat-panel counterparts, are also disposable. However, they have slightly better performance as they are more effective at keeping air impurities from getting through. They are pleated, which means that the air filter mesh is folded as opposed to being completely flat. This comes with its own set of advantages, among which is better air filtration.

With the added surface area that comes from the pleated mesh, the filter is able to capture more particles. This is why so many HVAC contractors recommend using this type of filter over the default flat-panel ones as they are around the same price but are of better quality and more efficient.

Electrostatic

Electrostatic Air Filters Boast a Higher MERV Rating

Electrostatic Air Filters Boast a Higher MERV Rating

Electrostatic filters are electrically charged, allowing them to capture particles varying in size. With a MERV rating of five to six, these filters can be used both in air conditioning systems and as furnace filters.

An extra layer of electric charge captures the smaller particles and keeps them within the filter. Thanks to a row of ionizers placed at one end of the filler, these particles are separated from the clean air, allowing fresh oxygen to pass through without all the dust particles that standard filters often miss.

Washable / Reusable Air Filters 

The Benefits of a Washable AC Filter

The Benefits of a Washable AC Filter

Both flat-panel and pleated filters are washable or reusable, which makes them an even more cost-effective option over other types of filters. While after several washes, the filters will lose their effectiveness at blocking out small particles from getting through the layers, they are still great if you wish to reduce waste and save a little money.

To wash off the filters, simply remove them once every six months, or more often which is more ideal, and hose them down thoroughly. Let them dry for a few hours until you can run your finger across them without any moisture. Once dried, they can be placed back in the vents and continue to filter out the air. Keep in mind, however, that reused air filters can hardly be “as good as new” after a couple of washes, since they will lose some amount of effectiveness. 

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA)

What Is a High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filter and Why You Should Get One

What Is a High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filter and Why You Should Get One

High-efficiency particulate air or HEPA filters are top-tier when it comes to air filters. They can trap over 90% of particles in the air and keep indoor air as clean as possible. In fact, the filter mesh is so dense that some researchers have reported that it can even protect your home from airborne Covid particles.

From nasty outside odors to smoke fires, the HEPA filters can handle it all, keeping any and all impurities from seeping into your home. If you are looking for absolute protection from any and all dirt particles, bacteria, and smells, HEPA filters are the ones you should install. However, as they are more complicated than the average filter, they will require professional help during installation. Get into contact with an HVAC specialist before purchasing these filters.

How Often Should You Change Your Home's Air Filters?

How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter

How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter

The frequency at which you should be changing or cleaning out your air filters depends on several factors. First of all, there is the dust factor in your local area. Some parts of the country are just not as dirty, whereas others are super dusty, in which case you will need to be replacing your filters far more often. There is also the factor of how often you use the AC and at what intensity. Another important factor is the size of your house and, more importantly, the length of your air vents. 

As mentioned above, the filter types also play a major role in how often you need to change them. However, most contractors recommend changing or washing the HVAC filter once every six months. If you live in an area with a lot of dust, consider doing it more often. Essentially, the golden rule is to change it at least every six months with a variation in frequency depending on where you live and how dirty the air is. You can find a more accurate time estimate for your local area online.

Many homeowners forget to change the air filters and end up clogging the ventilation system as a result. HVAC specialists recommend marking the date on the box that the air conditioner filter came in, so you know when you installed it and set a reminder for when it needs to be changed.

Important Features to Consider When Choosing An Air Filter

Why You Should Give Some Extra Thought to Air Filter Choice

Why You Should Give Some Extra Thought to Air Filter Choice

  • MERV rating, which stands for “minimum efficiency reporting values”, determines how effective the filter is at capturing particles. A filter with a 1 MERV rating is not very effective at trapping particles, whereas a higher MERV means the filter is very good at it. Pay close attention to the MERV rating when purchasing an air filter.

  • The ability to collect air particles is the main reason why filters are installed. There are different categories of air impurities that are classified, but most HVAC contractors will tell you that the medium-sized particles are the most difficult to handle. This is because small particles are easy to trap in the filter mesh, big ones get lodged in between the airways, but the medium ones always tend to slip out. A good air filter is determined by how well it is able to capture medium-sized particles.
An AC Filter's Ability to Collect All the Unwanted Particles Depends on a Number of Factors

An AC Filter's Ability to Collect All the Unwanted Particles Depends on a Number of Factors

  • The ability to collect microscopic allergens is crucial for any air filter. This can prevent disease and bacteria from entering your home and risking your health. An AC filter with a higher MERV rating is quite capable of capturing these impurities.

  • Trapping particles that carry odors is also a very important reason to have a high-quality air filter installed. Nasty odors always seem to find their way into your home and cause discomfort for you and your loved ones. A good air filter will keep the odor and any other unpleasant smell from entering your home.

  • Keeping the HVAC system clean and stable is one of the air filter’s most important responsibilities. If you constantly use a low-quality air filter, you risk clogging up your ventilation. This puts unnecessary strain on the system and gets dust in the mechanism, causing the ventilation system to develop problems. If this happens, you may notice that your AC is no longer cooling the room as well as it used to, and this can partly stem from a bad air filter. Consider purchasing a new air filter that will keep your HVAC system intact and running smoothly.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team