Air filters are not one-size-fits-all. They come in different sizes and ratings. Plus, there are HEPA filters, pleated filters, and fiberglass filters. How do you purchase the right air filter for your HVAC system? There are five main factors to consider.
The Top Five Factors to Consider Before Buying an Air Factor
Before you order filters, it’s important to consider these five factors. The most important is the cost. If you cannot afford a filter, it’s clearly not going to be an option for you.
The cost of an air filter varies. The more a filter can remove from the air, the higher it will cost. Sometimes, there will be discounts if you purchase filters in bulk, so that can be a good option for affording a filter you want but is too expensive on its own.
Generally, you have filters with performance ratings of Best, Better, Good, or Premium. If you are prone to allergies, spend extra and get premium filters when you can afford them. The higher you can go, the better it is. Your system will stay cleaner and you’ll find the filtration is more effective.
- Filter Type
Filters can be single-use or reusable. Reusable filters are more expensive, but you can wash them off and reuse them. That lowers the amount of waste going to the landfill.
A washable (reusable) filter can last upwards of ten years if you follow directions when washing and drying it. If you think about the amount extra you pay, you’ll often find it’s a fraction of the cost of replacing the filter every month.
Suppose you’re paying $48 for a three-pack of MERV 12 allergen pleated filters. That’s $16 each. Replacing the filters every two months means you’d need six filters in all, which is $96. You could purchase a washable filter with MERV 8 and spend $41 instead. As it lasts years, you save a lot of money, but you are dealing with a lower MERV rating.
- Home Occupants
How many people are in your home? If you have multiple pets, you’re going to need a filter that is designed to handle a lot of pet fur. A household of five will need a more powerful filter than the filter for a person living alone. If you have asthma or severe allergies, a filter that removes more allergens and dander is important.
- MERV Rating
The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is a standard rating used to determine the efficiency of an HVAC filter. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioner Engineers recommends that people stick to MERV 6 or higher, with residences aiming for MERV 8 to MERV 13.
- MERV 1 to MERV 4 – Filters pollen, dust, dust mites, and carpet fibers
- MERV 5 to MERV 8 – Filters all of the above plus hair spray, pet dander, cement dust, and mold spores
- MERV 9 to MERV 12 – Filters all of the above plus humidifier dust, flour, lead dust, and vehicle emissions
- MERV 13 to MERV 16 – Filters all of the above plus outdoor pollution, microscopic allergens, bacteria, tobacco smoke, germs from sneezes, and viruses
Some stores use an Air Filter Performance Rating system (AFPR) instead. It’s based on a scale of 1 to 12 and factors in the weight gain of a filter as it traps dust, hair, pollen, and other microbes. If you have to choose based on AFPR, aim for the highest number you can afford.
When choosing a MERV or AFPR rating, make sure your system can handle it. More filtration makes it harder to push the air through. Some motors may not be able to handle the extra work. You must get the best filter for your needs without straining your existing HVAC system. That’s where the owner’s manual can be helpful.
The size of the filter is essential. If you purchase a filter that’s too large or too small, it’s not going to fit or filter the air correctly. If you’re not sure what size to purchase, you need to check your system’s manual or measure the filter that’s currently in it. You can also ask your Florida AC cleaning and inspection specialist for guidance.
Filters are measured in length and height, but they’re also measured by width. You need to make sure you have all three measurements correctly.
Keep Your HVAC System Running Trouble-Free
How do you ensure your HVAC system is trouble-free? The best way to increase the longevity of your HVAC system is by making sure it’s well-maintained. What two important maintenance steps need to be performed and how often?
Change your air filter every one to three months. The more use it gets, the sooner you should switch it. If you have asthma, you may need to change it every month.
When you do change it, check that it’s inserted correctly. If it’s not seated correctly, it won’t work effectively and dust and pet hair can end up in your ducts where they may stick to the walls. In a humid area, you could end up with mildew growth.
Before you throw it away, see if there is a recycling program near you. A HEPA filter usually has a layer of fiberglass, cotton, or polypropylene fibers that are folded like an accordion. In between each fold is a separator made of a material like aluminum. The outer frame is plastic.
While plastic and aluminum are recyclable, it’s very uncommon for them to get broken down and recycled. Most districts require you to throw them in the trash. Contact your HVAC company to see if they know of a take-back program.
Cleaning and Inspection:
As Miami and nearby towns and cities get pretty hot and humid, your AC is going to run throughout the year. Due to this excessive use, it’s worth having your system cleaned and inspected every year.
During a cleaning, the coils and vents are cleaned. If the filter is dirty, it will be replaced. The system is tested, and ducts may also be checked for holes and cracks. If there are obvious problems, duct restoration or sealing may be advised.
Have you had your HVAC system cleaned and inspected recently? If it’s been years, it’s time to schedule a professional cleaning with a Miami, Florida, AC specialist. All Year Cooling is fully licensed and insured to provide air conditioning service and inspections. Have your system professionally cleaned and change the filters regularly to keep your system working like new.
All Year Cooling makes it easy to schedule a cleaning and inspection by phone, email, or chat. With more than 350,000 happy customers, we know we can offer you the same exceptional service and help you choose the best air filter for your budget and system’s size.