What You Need to Know Before Buying an HVAC Filter

What You Need to Know Before Buying an HVAC Filter

What You Need to Know Before Buying an HVAC Filter

19th Dec 2022

Are you thinking of buying an HVAC filter for your home? An HVAC filtration system can dramatically improve the quality of indoor air, which can improve your health and your quality of life. However, there are a few important facts you should know about HVAC filters before buying one for your home or business.

How Do HVAC Filters Work?

HVAC filters work by passing air through the fibers of their filter. They remove particulate matter from the air and recycle it for use inside a home or business. HVAC filters can remove any of the following from the air:

  • Dust
  • Dead skin
  • Hair and fur
  • Mold and fungus spores
  • Danger
  • Pollen
  • Wood, metal, or plastic particles
  • Smoke
  • Bacteria and viruses

An HVAC filter that can remove these particulates can help those inside avoid respiratory ailments or illnesses.

Types of HVAC Filters

You must choose the right HVAC filter for your home or business. Here are some of the most common types of HVAC filters you’ll encounter on the market:

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Air Filters

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters remove 99.97 of particulates from the air that are 0.3 microns or more in size. The Energy Department sets the standard to determine what filters can use the HEPA name.

HEPA filters are ideal for settings that require high-quality air, such as hospitals, retirement homes, businesses, and more. However, you’ll want to be sure that your HVAC system can handle a HEPA filter. Some systems struggle to pass air through heavier HEPA filters.

Washable Air Filters

Washable air filters are electrostatic filters that you can reuse numerous times. Simply wash the filter once it’s time to replace it, and you can use it again instead of buying a new one. A washable air filter can last for several years before it should be replaced.

Washable filters come in both pleated and flat-panel options. However, while washable filters can be versatile and create less waste than disposable filters, they have a limited lifespan. They lose a bit of their charge with each wash and become less effective at trapping particles.

Electrostatic Air Filters

Electrostatic filters have an electric charge that helps them attract particles. These filters can remove air pollutants more effectively than those that aren’t charged. Electrostatic filters can be reusable or disposable and may come in flat or pleases versions.

Pleated Air Filters

Pleated air filters are relatively thick and are made of matted cotton or plastic fibers. These are thicker than flat-panel air filters and can remove more particulates. However, they also have a higher price point.

Flat-Panel Air Filters

Flat-panel air filters use screens of woven fiber, often fiberglass, to filter our particulates. They are the least expensive of any type of air filter. However, flat-panel air filters remove the least amount of particulate matter of all air filters due to the large gaps between their fibers.

What Do a Filter’s Numbers Mean?

Air filters often include a numerical rating that indicates their strength. Most air filters use a scale developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRACE) known as the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). This scale runs from one to 16, where one is the weakest rating and 16 is the strongest.

Some brands and manufacturers have their own filter rating systems aside from MERV. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) use the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) scale, which runs to over 1,200. The 3M Corporation and Home Depot also use their own rating systems.

How Do You Maintain an Air Filter?

You’ll most likely need to conduct regular maintenance on your air filter. Some air filters need to be changed on a monthly basis, especially disposable ones. You may need to change your filter more often if your home has been exposed to elevated levels of particulate matter. Common sources of these are construction and wildfires. Be sure to check any instructions that may have come along with your filter to properly maintain it.

How Do I Choose The Right Air Filter?

Choosing the right air filter is vital for your home or business. You’ll need to make your decision based on your budget and health needs. You may need to choose air filters with high MERV or CADR ratings if your home or business has people with compromised health in them.