Did you know the wrong type of filter in your air conditioner could be doing more harm than good to the quality of air in your home? Many people think that all air filters are the same but there are actually many different kinds and the type that you need really depends on the type of system you have. In this article, I’ll cover the different types of air filters, their costs and how to to figure out which one is right for you.
Change Your Filters
Changing all of the air filters in your home on a regular basis is absolutely necessary. Although, many people often go months longer than they should without changing them on a regular basis helps to prevent the build up of dust, debris, mold, mildew and airborne pollutants in not only the air system but throughout your home as well. New filters also not only help the quality of air in your home but do a lot to protect the mechanics of the central air units as well. The more efficient and clean an air conditioner is, the less often it will need to be serviced. This also helps the your central air unit function more efficiently, saving you money in the long run.
Different Types of Filters
Generally, there are three major types of air filters on the market for the furnace in your home. They are fiberglass, pleated (cloth) and electrostatic (a type of plastic). All of these options range in cost and function, and even have several subcategories that they fall into. Fiberglass and pleated are by far the most common varieties, with fiberglass as the cheaper and more easily available option. Fiberglass filters, which are made out of spun glass, aren’t meant to last more than thirty days and don’t stop a lot of pollutants from getting into the system. Although, many fiberglass filters come with a metal mesh design to help make them a little more rigid than other less-supported models.
On the other side of the spectrum, pleated filters offer an option of longevity not provided by their fiberglass cousins. Rather than being made from spun glass, pleated air filters are typically manufactured from a synthetic material similar to the feel of cloth, which can keep out much smaller harmful particles than cheaper options can. It goes without saying that keeping out smaller harmful particles (dust, pollen, dander, mold, bacteria, etc) leads to cleaner air.
Then there are electrostatic filters, which are by far the most appealing filters on the market. These filters are made out of a synthetic material that can hold up against just about anything. That means these filters can be washed rather than having to be replaced so you only have to buy them once. You still have to make sure to clean them every sixty to ninety days and since they last longer, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether you’re stocked up on filters as often.
Finding the Right One for You
Now that we’ve covered the different types of air filters there are on the market, it’s time to break down what exactly each one does and how to figure out which one is right for the air system in your home. At this point in time, it’s important to tell you about the MERV rating system. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating system is an industry-wide standard for rating the effectiveness of a filter. Basically, the higher the number, the better the filter. Although, this gets bit tricky since a better filter catches more contaminants, which means they have to be changed or cleaned more often. I always stick to filters with a middle of the road MERV rating.
High-efficiency pleated – These are made from deep 4-5″ pleated synthetic cotton, attached to very rigid metal grid to prevent leaks or fluttering. These filters are used in hospitals and keep out even the smallest of contaminant particles, which is perfect for those with respiratory problems and autoimmune disorders. MERV Rating: 14-16. Cost: $100
Permanent electrostatic – These filters contain self-charging cotton fibers that attract particles similar to the way a balloon will stick to you when you rub it on your hair. These filters have a removable, washable filter that only need to be replaced about once every decade. MERV rating: 8, cost: $15-20
Disposable electrostatic – Similar to permanent electrostatic filters, these have the same electrostatic cotton fibers that catch contaminant particles. Affordable in standard sizes and good for homes with children, pets or smokers. Custom sizes are expensive and can be high cost when replaced regularly over several years. MERV rating: 10, cost: $10
Disposable pleated – These filters are made from polyester and work well to remove small particles like mites but definitely need to be changed more often. MERV rating: 6, cost: $4-5
Disposable fiberglass – These are the standard, run of the mill filters that you’ll find at any hardware store, grocery store and major home improvement chains/box stores. These are thin, made from spun fiberglass and don’t do much in terms of filtering. Very inexpensive, good for renters and those without allergies or asthma because it has little to no effect on cleaning the air MERV rating: 2-3, cost: $1-2
No matter which type of filters you you decide to get, your home and HVAC components could probably stand to operate more efficiently if they are changed out more often. Not only do you save money by opting for more expensive filters, you and your family will feel much better in the long run. And remember, you should never let routine maintenance go by the wayside, especially when professional help is only a phone call away.
For all of your HVAC needs, call J&W Heating and Air at 904-647-3292.
Proudly serving the Jacksonville area since 1966.