Every home or business with an HVAC system uses air filters, which basically means that every building you see relies on these simple devices to prevent debris from entering and circulating. Positioned near the intake of your system, air filters capture particles while still allowing air to flow freely.
Although air filters might seem insignificant, they are actually quite important to your system’s operation. That’s why we are going to look at some different types of filters your system might use. We hope this makes the topic easy to understand and highlights the importance of keeping on top of this important part of your HVAC maintenance.
Basically, there are only a few types of air filters on the market. The main difference is the type of material used as the filter. Some material is more effective at capturing debris and grabbing very small particles. Others provide a minimum level of filtering. The price you pay depends largely on the quality of the materials.
Fiberglass filters are one of the most common types available. They are basically constructed of layers of fiberglass in a stiff cardboard frame. A thin metal grid usually sandwiches these layers to keep everything together. These are disposable and generally provide the minimum level of filtering.
Pleated polyester filters are very similar to fiberglass filters, with the filtering medium being the main difference. The filtering is pleated, like when you make a fan out of paper. This design increases air resistance and surface area. Polyester is less porous and allows less debris into your system. These are also disposable, and need to be replaced regularly.
HEPA filters are at the top of the list when it comes to quality. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and these types of filters are able to reduce particles 0.3 microns or larger by 99.97 percent. They offer you the highest amount of filtering from all the HVAC filter options.
Another option is to get a washable air filter. However, these are not as common or an option for some systems. Basically these are reusable filters that you wash in a sink instead of replacing. Most of these don’t filter very fine particles and rely on the buildup of dust to improve their filtering ability.
When selecting a filter you should first rely on your unit’s specifications. It will tell you what works best for your system. Most filters need to be changed monthly, and if you live in a high-pollution area then you might need to change it more frequently. Make sure you buy an extra, and mark the change-out date on your calendar so you don’t forget!