Understanding Our HVAC Filters

Today, filters are a very important part of our lives. We use filters in our water systems to help filter the water we use. There are filters in our cars and trucks to help them perform efficiently. Your HVAC filter is a very important part of your heating and air conditioning unit’s performance; it helps to ensure that your family breaths clean air, reducing allergies that may be triggered by particles in the air. A clean HVAC filter will also save you money by improving the energy efficiency of your unit. There are three classifications of air conditioning filters based on the materials they are made of as well as the operations they perform. The three classifications are mechanical, electronic, and pleated air filters; we will take a look at each type.

Mechanical Air Filters

This is the most common air conditioning filter used in homes today. The mechanical filter uses synthetic fibers to catch small particles and debris. Mechanical filters are also available as a charcoal filter. Disposable fiberglass filters are available in various sizes to accommodate any HVAC air exchanger. A disposable fiberglass filter is the most economical but also the least effective. Disposable fiberglass filters will need to be thrown away and replaced by a new filter after use.

Pleated Air Filters

A pleated air filter will remove around 35 to 40 percent of the air pollutants found in your home. They are more effective than a mechanical filter because of the denser construction. They contain more fibers per square inch than a mechanical filter. Naturally the denser the fibers, the more particles they will absorb and remove from the air. These filters are more expensive, but you get what you pay for.

Electronic Air Filter

The electronic filter is the most expensive of the three types; it is also the most effective. It will trap the smallest of dust particles and debris. An electronic filter will also filter smaller molecules such as smoke, mold, and pet odors. These filters will have a longer life—lasting up to 6 months in some cases. Electronic filters are also marketed as allergy-free filters.

Air conditioning filters are classified into categories according to their MERV rating. Filters belonging to the MERV 7 category will remove larger particles and provide standard protection. MERV 8 filters will provide higher protection against pet odors, dust, and pollen particles. The best filters are found in the MERV 11 category. These filters will provide the best protection from allergies and asthma illnesses. If you have any question about which type of filter would be best for you and your family, check with your HVAC contractor to help you with your decision.



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