Choosing the Best HVAC Air Filter: Relevant Factors for the Best Air Quality

If your home is unusually dusty or the air quality isn’t as good as it used to be, consider this possible culprit: an ineffective air filter on your HVAC system. Low-quality air filters may fail to trap pollutants, diminishing the quality of the air in your home and coating your furniture with excessive dust.  

If you (or someone else) inadvertently choose a low-quality air filter, that filter won’t last very long or be very useful. Not only that, but you’ll also likely pay higher energy bills than you would otherwise, since your HVAC will have to work harder to clean the air in your home.

As a result, it makes sense to buy a high-quality air filter for your HVAC. But how can you tell the difference between air filters? If your HVAC filter could be the reason for the low air quality in your home, take a look at these tips to buy a better one.

Look for the highest MERV rating you can find

The best air filters have higher Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) ratings based on their effectiveness in trapping particles. Air filters with higher MERV ratings not only trap more pollutants, but they’ll also need to be changed less often — which translates to less work and lower costs for you. 

Forget about fiberglass filters

The thin, flat panels in air filters made of fiberglass aren’t very good at trapping air particles. In fact, fiberglass air filters are so ineffective at trapping particles that they’ll only get rid of about 10 percent of the air pollutants in your home. In fact, they aren’t even designed to improve air quality; they’re really just meant to protect HVAC systems.

Pleated filters are somewhat effective… at a cost

Pleated air filters are better than fiberglass filters at trapping particles, but they still only trap about 45 percent of air pollutants in your home. That’s not bad, but the real downside is the maintenance schedules of pleated air filters: if they get clogged, they can break the limit switch on your HVAC, preventing it from turning on. As a result, pleated air filters need to be replaced more frequently than others. 

High-efficiency air filters are becoming the new standard

With some of the highest MERV ratings available, high-efficiency air filters remove up to 85 percent of pollutants (including dust and pollen) from your home. Most high-efficiency air filters are made of synthetic polyester fibers that can trap small particles better than those in other air filters. Look for high-efficiency air filters coated with special chemicals that can also kill airborne mold and bacteria. On top of keeping the air in your home cleaner and fresher, high-efficiency air filters can also help your HVAC system work more efficiently for longer.

Don’t forget to change your HVAC filter

Even if you use a high-quality air filter, the air quality in your home will still be poorer than it could be if you don’t change that filter regularly — and most people don’t change their HVAC air filters as often as they should. If your house is pet-free, carpet-free, and free from other factors that could decrease air quality, experts recommend that homeowners change their HVAC filters every three months. If your home is full of additional pollutants, change filters every two months. Pleated HVAC filters need to be changed at least once a year.

Choosing a high-quality air filter and replacing that filter regularly can improve the air quality in your home and increase the longevity of your HVAC system, saving you money over time. Of course, even if you buy the highest-quality air filters and change them regularly, your HVAC system still needs to be cleaned, serviced, and inspected annually. The experts at John C. Flood are knowledgeable about the needs of your HVAC system and can answer any questions about air filters. Schedule a service with one of our HVAC technicians today.

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