While your HVAC system is responsible for keeping your home comfortable, you may not consider the air filter that keeps that system humming. Your HVAC filter also helps maintain fresh air in your home. For these reasons, it’s essential to understand how an air filter functions and how you can choose the most reliable filters for your HVAC unit.

The Functions of Air Filters

Air filters are fitted in the HVAC system to clean the air that flows into your home. They prevent debris and dust from infiltrating the HVAC and protect it from clogging up. Quality filters trap and hold particulates, such as pollen, hair, dust and dirt, bacteria, and microorganisms.

An air filter helps ensure you’re not breathing dirty air. As the filter collects particulates, it can become clogged, making it harder for air to pass through. Professionals recommend changing the filter every 30 to 90 days, but this time frame depends on varying conditions.

Homes with pets and those prone to dust, debris, and smoke may result in overworked filters, so regular maintenance and replacement are highly commended. The type of filter used determines the frequency of replacement. If you’re using a HEPA or an electrostatic filter, you may not need to change them that often.

If you take too long to replace your filter, this will start causing issues with your HVAC system, such as gradually reducing its efficiency. This translates to more energy consumption and higher energy bills.

How to Get the Right Air Filter for Your HVAC System

Air filters come in varying sizes and types. With many filters on the market, you may not know which type to select. Buying shouldn’t be a hurdle when you know what to look for, though. Take into account the following when looking for an air filter for your HVAC system.

Consider the Size

Filters are usually labeled in three dimensions: length, width, and thickness or depth. You should also note that the advertised size exceeds the actual measurement. The wrong size of filter can compromise your whole HVAC system as it cannot create the seal required to filter the air flowing into your home. The gap allows germs, dirt, and dust to get through, potentially recirculating into your home’s air.

A small filter will make rattling noises inside the HVAC. Manufacturers label air filters using the estimate of actual size. This estimated size is what they refer to as the normal size, which they use for industry consistency. Normal size measurement makes comparing products easier. Once you find the normal size, you can confidently shop for your preferred brand.

Most HVAC systems are designed to accommodate filters that are 1-inch thick. However, an HVAC professional can install or replace the rack with a thicker filter. You can opt for thicker filters since they can handle more buildup. Plus, thick filters trap more particulates, and you don’t need to replace them too often.

Types of Filters

Fibreglass air filters are inexpensive and disposable. They are also readily available in retail stores and hardware shops. These filters are designed to last 30 days, meaning you must change them monthly. Failure to replace them after 30 days will compromise your HVAC system. They’re also not effective at eliminating small particles.

There are also pleated filters made of pliable materials like cotton, polyester, or paper. The pleats give the air filter a substantial surface area to capture more particles. This high-quality plastic, synthetic-based material allows the unit to trap small particulates, such as spores, pet dander, smoke, viruses, pollen, and dust mites.

The ability to trap small particles makes pleated air filters a better option for anyone with asthma, allergies, and other sensitivities. Pleated filters are also recyclable, making them eco-friendly. Although they might be more costly than their fibreglass counterparts, they’re worth it.

HEPA filters are designed with extremely fine glass material, with a thread measuring less than 1 micron in diameter. The woven threads are stitched into a thick web of layers folded into a unique accordion shape. This shape allows the filter to fit in a designated area. Their filtration efficiency is 99.95%, meaning they can effectively filter out bacteria, viruses, dust, and other harmful substances.

UV filters are designed to utilize UV light technology to filter air. These filters have a quiet operation and efficiently capture bacteria from the air. However, they cannot remove VOCs effectively. Generally, they’re highly effective compared to fibreglass and pleated filters.

Filter Performance

The next consideration is the filter’s performance. Some air filters are given a CADR rating while others get a MERV. MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) helps you understand how the filter will perform. The higher the MERV rating, the more particles a filter can remove. It also indicates that the filter’s efficacy is high. These ratings are given to electronic, pleated, or electrostatic filters.

HEPA filters are usually highly rated since they have an efficiency rate of 99.95%. They can filter microscopic elements down to 1 micron. When choosing a filter based on the MERV rating, a rating of 8 or more is suitable for residential HVAC systems.

Filtration Level

A loose filter isn’t suitable for your home because particulates will pass through and accumulate in the system, which can damage your equipment. Any pleated air filter can improve your home’s air quality by eliminating snagged pollen and dust. A 1-inch-thick filter with a high MERV rating is too restrictive for specific HVAC systems. A 4-inch filter with a high MERV rating can work well for your equipment.

Filter and Installation and Replacement Costs

The cost factor will determine the type of filter you choose. It will also depend on whether the filter is an aftermarket or original. Although high-quality and well-rated filters are costly, they’re worth the money by providing high-quality air and enhancing your system’s efficiency.

You also need to consider installation and replacement costs. Some filters are designed to last for months while others only last 30 days.

Odour Control and Noise Level

Eliminating unwanted smells in your indoor environment should be your top priority. That’s why you need to consider filters explicitly designed for odour control. Filters manufactured with activated carbon effectively neutralize volatile organic compounds in the air.

You may find highly efficient filters that produce more noise due to their thick or denser materials. Fortunately, you can choose a filter that provides adequate filtration while meeting your comfort preferences. Check if the filter has noise-reduction technologies or features to mitigate airflow turbulence. Some of these features include sound-dampening materials or specialized aerodynamic designs.

Reach Out Today

Buying air filters should be an effortless process. At Twin Peaks Plumbing, Heating & Gas, we serve customers in Nanaimo, BC, and the surrounding areas. Count on us for a myriad of services, including pipe repair, rooter services, drain cleaning, leak detection, and drain repair. We also offer toilet repair, heating and cooling, troubleshooting water heaters, HVAC installation, replacement, and maintenance. Call us to get the services that suit your needs and finances.

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