What to consider when buying an HVAC filter

What to consider when buying an HVAC filter

Many homeowners view central heating and cooling as a perk, but like any significant home equipment, your HVAC system needs routine maintenance to perform at its peak. An air filter purifies the air moving through the system of impurities like dust, pet dander, and even infections at the most fundamental level. This not only improves the air quality inside your home but also protects your HVAC system from damage.According to HVAC Air Filter Manufacturers and Trane Residential partner Anthony Carrions study, people spend over 90% of their time indoors. Modern homes are more insulated, energy-efficient, and well-sealed, but these attributes may also trap inside pollutants, making indoor air up to five times less healthy than outdoor air.We’ve posted a useful tutorial with all the details you want to assist you in comprehending the ins and outs of air filters.

What different types of air filters exist?

There are several air filters available in various sizes, materials, and pricing points.


Historically the most affordable type of air filter, flat-panel variants have a framework covered with fibers, most often fiberglass. They can’t be of the highest quality, letting a lot of particles through, but they are disposable and easy to install.


Disposable pleated filters use thick screens made of cotton or plastic fibers to filter airborne pollutants. Contrary to their flat-panel counterparts, they have pleats, which enhances the filter’s surface area for filtering and the quantity of dirt it can collect. The cost is a little more than flat-panel filters.


Some air filters are electrostatically charged in order to collect more (and smaller) particles such as pollen, smoke, or pathogens within their screens. They are available in flat or pleated styles, washable or not.Both flat-panel and pleated designs of washable or reusable filters are available. They may be hosed down with water or vacuumed to remove any particle buildup. They are less harmful to the environment than disposable filters, although there is a tiny disadvantage, especially if you choose an electrostatically charged filter. “Reusable filters will lose their electrostatic charge over time, which causes the filter to lose its power to capture microscopic particles,” claims Scott Blackwell, Lowe’s merchandising vice president of rough plumbing and electrical. As a result, even washable filters have an expected lifespan of a few years.

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA): 

The term “HEPA” refers to any filter that routinely removes at least 99.97 percent of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in size. The Energy Department suggests reading it. They can be used in households for those with allergies or compromised immune systems, but they are most typically utilized in commercial settings that require extraordinarily clean air, such hospitals and laboratories. Not every HVAC system, meanwhile, is designed to resist the incredibly dense HEPA filters.

What do all those figures mean?

Each air filter’s capacity to capture airborne particles is rated. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), a scale from one to sixteen that serves as the industry standard, was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Higher values denote stronger filters, whereas lower numbers denote weaker ones. Two examples of businesses that have created their own grading systems are Home Depot and 3M. The Microparticle Performance Rating and Filter Performance Grading are both.Another technique for rating air purifier performance is the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) scale, which is approved by the Federal Trade Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. Just with MERV, higher numbers correspond to better overall performance in terms of particle removal. Although some high-performance filters may achieve 1,200 CADR, most filters fall between 12 CADR and 240 CADR.

What is the best air filter I should use at home?

First, ascertain the specific needs of those who will be residing in your home. The CADR or MERV ratings of your air filters should be directly tied to these specifications.According to Carrion, families that have dogs, have allergies, deal with a lot of dust, or want to trap airborne germs should use filters with a higher CADR rating. Similar reasoning applies to MERV ratings: By utilizing a filter with a higher MERV rating, you could reduce the quantity of particles and allergens that enter your home’s air.But be cautious when employing your filters. Some HVAC systems aren’t strong enough to drive air through more constrictive filters, i.e., ones with a higher MERV or CADR rating, which might reduce airflow and lead to less efficient heating and cooling of your home. Overuse of an HVAC system’s hardware might result in pricey repair work. Consult the manual for your HVAC system or get in touch with an HVAC expert to determine how powerful your model is.Once you’ve decided on the rating range you desire, you can start considering your budget. Disposable fiberglass filters, which start at around $5 on average, are the least expensive up front; washable filters, which start at $9 on average, may end up being less expensive overall.The number and thickness of filters you’ll need will depend on the size and thickness of the ventilation apertures in your HVAC system as well as the locations it will be used in. 

How ought an air filter to be maintained?

Maintaining the quality of the air in your home and ensuring the smooth operation of your HVAC system depend on routine replacement or cleaning of your air filters. According to Carrion, changing your air filter is easy. Slide or swap out the majority of filters is one of the few tasks you can complete to maintain your filter without the help of a trained expert.


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