Are you confused about air filters and are looking for an HVAC air filter guide? Well, you have landed on the right article. This complete guide will give you detailed information about everything you’d ever need to know about air filters.
HVAC air filters are an essential part of our home, which keeps the entire central air system running. A dirty air filter would restrict the airflow and prevent the system from working like it’s supposed to. Eventually, it would lead to an equipment breakdown. HVAC filters are a part of your HVAC system, which removes any air impurities from your house.
If you are getting low airflow, your air filter may be dirty. Cleaning and replacing it regularly is the key to fresh air. This air filter guide will give you detailed information about HVAC filters and how you can choose the best one.
HVAC Filter Guide: Everything You Need to Know
An air filter in your home is just as necessary as your face mask. It protects you from the impurities in the air and keeps your house feeling fresh and clean. With this HVAC filter guide: everything you need to know, we’ll dive into the world of air filters and explain everything.
What Is an HVAC Filter?
This section of the air filter guide will discuss what an HVAC filter is. An air filter is a semi-permeable shield placed in your HVAC system. It stands between the system and the air inside your home.
These filters are an essential home component that removes any air impurities from your house. The impurities include dust, pollen, and pet dander. As the name suggests, the HVAC filter filters your air.
When your system pulls in the air to either cool or warm it, it’s intercepted by the air filters. These air filters act as a barrier to any impurities you don’t want in your home. The impurities are caught in the filter, and the purified air moves through the system without it.
Why Do You Need an HVAC Filter?
This next section of the air filter guide will discuss why an HVAC filter is necessary. Filtering the air in your home is quite essential. This is because the concentration of air pollutants indoors can be up to five times higher than the concentration found outdoors.
Indoor air quality is a significantly increasing issue in the United States. The EPA confirms that the air inside your house is more polluted than outside. The primary reason behind this is the concentration of pollutant sources. Additionally, the air can stagnate inside a closed building which adds to the concentration of pollutants.
HVAC air filters remove all these pollutants and allergens, which would otherwise roam freely inside your home. It keeps your air cleaner and safer, thus promoting home wellness and personal health.
Apart from this, air filters also prevent any gunk from reaching your HVAC system. HVAC breakdown occurs because of the particle and pollutant buildup inside the system. These breakdowns are costly to fix. You can easily save money and prevent these breakdowns by regularly cleaning and replacing your air filters.
Different Types of HVAC Filters
In this next section of the air filter guide, we’ll discuss the different types of HVAC filters available on the market. It is essential to know the different types and select the one that best fits your home.
|HVAC Filter Types
|Where to Buy
|Flat-Paneled Fiberglass Filters
|🙌 Most popular
|Click here to buy >>
|Pleated Media Filters
|🌱 Increased efficiency
|Click here to buy >>
|💪 Most protection
|Click here to buy >>
|Reusable Air Filters
|♻️ Environmentally friendly
|Click here to buy >>
Flat-Paneled Fiberglass Filters
Fiberglass air filters are a popular HVAC air filter choice due to their affordability. However, these disposable filters have the lowest MERV rating. This means that they cannot improve your air quality, despite trapping dust and other pollutants.
If you are looking for HVAC energy efficiency, these might be the perfect fit for you. They place the least restrictions on airflow. However, they need to be replaced more often, typically once every month. Our complete guide on HVAC filters will help you decide the perfect time to replace your air filters.
Pleated Media Filters
The Pleated air filters have a moderate MERV rating and can trap any mold spores and pet dander. They are much better than fiberglass filters and significantly improve your indoor air quality. These filters have a pleated design that increases the filter’s surface area and efficiency.
However, these provide less airflow resistance. While buying a pleated filter, you should try and find one with the highest MERV rating. Our complete guide on HVAC filters can help you analyze the best MERV-rated filter for your home.
HEPA filters are amongst the best air filters available in the market. They provide the highest protection level for airborne particles or pollutants. And they’re able to capture small microns, including bacteria, and trap tobacco smoke.
These filters are usually used in hospitals and medical facilities. Most home HVAC systems are not designed to accommodate the highly restricted airflow of these filters. If you still want to install them, you’d need a contractor to modify your HVAC system.
Reusable Air Filters
Reusable air filters are more sustainable and can be washed or cleaned for continued use. This means that you do not have to replace your filter each time. However, these filters have a very low MERV rating and do not improve your air quality. Additionally, it can also attract mold and mildew growth if installed before they are completely dry.
How to Pick an HVAC Filter?
Once you know why you need an air filter, you should now analyze which one’s perfect for your needs. This air filter guide will discuss all the necessary steps to follow for picking an HVAC filter.
1. Measure Your Furnace Filter
Before choosing an air filter, you will need to measure your furnace. Locate your filter slot in your furnace handler. At times they could be placed behind your return vents as well.
The furnace filter size is measured in length x breadth x height. You can use a simple tape measure for your measurements.
Once you have measured the actual size of your filter, you’d need to round it up to the following whole number. At times it could be ½ an inch or more. This rounded-up number is the normal size of the air filter, which will be available in the market.
2. Choose Your MERV Rating
This section of the air filter guide will discuss MERV rating. MERV refers to the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This simply measures how effective an HVAC filter is at capturing pollutants. The scale ranges from 1 to 20.
The lower the MERV rating is, the less effective your filter is at capturing pollutants in the air. As the MERV rating increases, the filter becomes more capable of capturing the smallest air particles. However, high MERV-rated filters also restrict your airflow. Hence, you should understand your needs and choose a MERV rating range best suited for your home.
The best way to choose your MERV rating is to analyze your indoor air quality. It can be measured by three factors – where you live, what’s in your home, and who you live with.
If you live in a rural area or are surrounded by factories, your outdoor air is more polluted. This means that your indoor air will be more polluted as well. If you use air fresheners, paints, or heavy carpeting inside your house, your air has more pollutants. This is because all these are volatile organic compounds that pollute your indoor air.
Finally, if you have a smoker in your house, cigarette smoke can drastically pollute your air. Additionally, pets also release a high amount of dander, which contributes to indoor air pollution.
Suppose you live in an industrial area with heavy carpeting in your house. In that case, your house would be more polluted than someone living in an urban area. You would need a higher MERV-rated filter for your house.
3. Choose Your Filter Type
This section of the air filter guide will discuss choosing the perfect filter type. The market is filled with various filters that have different MERV ratings. Depending upon the quality of your indoor air and your preferences, you can choose the best filter for you. After choosing the filter you need, you will automatically narrow down your choices.
There are four different types of filters – Fiberglass, Pleated, HEPA, and Reusable filters. Fiberglass is a disposable filter with the lowest MERV rating and needs to be replaced frequently. Reusable filters are sustainable but can attract more mold to your house.
The Pleated filter has a moderate MERV rating and is best suited for a typical home. HEPA filters have the highest MERV rating but offer an extremely restricted airflow. They are more suitable for hospitals and other medical facilities.
For choosing the best filter, you need to analyze the size of your HVAC filter and the climate you live in. It would be best also to decide whether you need a disposable or reusable air filter. MERV rating is another important factor that would help you choose the best air filter for your house. You can quickly learn to choose your filter type by reading this in-depth air filter guide.
4. Install Your Filter
This section of the air filter guide will discuss how you can install your filter. Once you have chosen the filter for your house, you need to learn how to install it. You can either hire a contractor to do it or install it yourself. It’s a pretty standard procedure, and you can easily do it once you know all the steps with our complete guide.
- First, you need to locate the space for your air filter in your HVAC system. If you are replacing the filter, you need to remove the old filter first.
- You would then need to analyze the airflow direction and install the new filter in that direction. This is because the air needs to flow through it for your filter to work. All HVAC filters have an arrow facing in the direction of the airflow.
- Now, slowly insert the air filter in the slot, with the arrow pointed towards the airflow. This is typically in the direction of your fan.
- Once inserted, ensure that your filter is snug and leaves no gaps in the filter rack. You have successfully installed your new filter with the help of our air filter guide.
If you’re still unsure or have a few unanswered questions, you can read our detailed guide to installing air filters. This guide would let you analyze different situations and help install your filter for each one of them.
5. Replacing Your Filter Regularly
This section of the air filter guide will discuss how frequently you should replace your filter. Replacing your filter regularly is just as important as installing it. Your filter catches a lot of pollutants and particles over time.
HVAC air filters, eventually, get clogged up with pollutants. This reduces the airflow, and your filters become ineffective. Depending on the filter you’re using, you need to replace it once a month or once every few months. It also depends on your indoor air quality.
If you live in an industrial area or have three cats at home, your air quality will be poor. This means that you will have to replace your air filters more frequently. If your home has average air quality and uses a fiberglass disposable filter, it should be replaced once a month. Pleated air filters can last you anywhere between 30 and 90 days.
The best way is to pull out your air filter, inspect it, and then analyze if you need a new one. If it’s dark with dust, it’s time to change your filter. For more detailed information on replacing filters, you can read our dedicated air filter guide on changing your filters.
HVAC Filter Guide Conclusion
HVAC air filters are pretty essential for your home. They help you filter out any pollutants or particles from the air, keeping it fresh and clean. These air filters improve your health and hygiene and prevent the clogging of HVAC systems.
In our air filter guide, we discussed the importance of air filters and how you can pick one for your home. Before picking out an air filter, you need to analyze your needs and air quality. This would depend on where you live and who you live with. Additionally, your budget constraints and HVAC system can also affect your choice.
Before you buy or pick an air filter for your home, it is necessary to analyze your filter size. You should also analyze the HVAC system installed in your home. This would help you pick the right one for your house.
Frequently Asked Questions about our HVAC Filter Guide
What Is an HVAC filter?
HVAC filters are a part of your system responsible for filtering out any pollutants or particles in the air. These include pet dander, pollen, or dust. Their purpose is to improve the quality of air inside your house. However, it is necessary to replace them regularly to ensure that your filters and HVAC system work efficiently.
What Is MERV Rating?
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This is a scale that ranges between 1 and 20. MERV rating measures how efficient your filter is at capturing pollutants. The lower your MERV rating is, the more inefficient your filter is at capturing pollutants in the air.
While selecting your air filter, it is necessary to analyze its MERV rating. A moderate rating between 5 and 14 is quite suitable for average homes. Our air filter guide can help you analyze the best MERV-rated air filter for your home.
What Type of Filter Is Best for HVAC?
The type of air filter you will use for your HVAC system depends on your needs or requirements. There are four types of air filters available in the market. These include fiberglass, pleated, HEPA, and reusable filters.
Fiberglass filters are a disposable and affordable option. However, they have a very low MERV rating. The pleated filter has a moderate rating and is one of the best filters you can use for your HVAC system at home. HEPA filters are more suitable for hospitals and medical facilities. The reusable filters are sustainable but can lead to mold accumulation if not washed properly.
Where Is the HVAC Filter Located?
You can find your air filter slot where your HVAC system is located. The slot is usually placed on the return side of the unit. Your filter would usually slide into a slot placed above or below your HVAC unit.
How Do You Know When To Change Your HVAC Filter?
It is always recommended to pull out your HVAC filter once a month and analyze it. However, a few other ways can help you decide it’s time to change your HVAC filter.
Your air isn’t hot or cold enough.
The electricity bill has increased significantly.
You are suffering from more allergy attacks than usual.
There is more dust near the vents than usual.
What Happens If You Don’t Replace the Air Filter in the HVAC?
If you forget to replace your air filter, it will eventually become inefficient. A dirty filter will reduce the airflow to your HVAC system. It can also clog your system over time. A dirty filter also uses more energy and will cost you more money.
Can HVAC Filter Covid?
Portable air cleaners and high MERV-rating HVAC filters can filter out indoor air pollutants, including viruses. However, there is no solid proof that suggests they can filter out the Covid virus. But, they help keep your air fresh and improve indoor air quality and your personal hygiene.
Are Expensive HVAC Filters Worth It?
The more expensive HVAC filters have a higher MERV rating. They are more efficient in filtering out pollutants from your house. However, not everyone needs to invest in an expensive air filter.
If you live in an urban area and do not have any pets, your air quality might be above average. You can use an air filter with a MERV rating between 5 and 14, which is moderately priced. Our air filter guide will help you analyze your requirements and choose the best HVAC filter.
What Are the Advantages of HEPA Filters?
HEPA filters are the best air filters that can capture micropollutants in the air. Here are a few advantages of using HEPA filters.
HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of particles bigger than 0.3 microns.
They keep any debris or dust away from your lungs.
These filters can efficiently clean out circulated air.
What Are the Disadvantages of HEPA Filters?
While HEPA filters are the best in the market, they have a few disadvantages.
HEPA filters cannot trap pollutants like gasses, fumes, or chemicals.
They are costly as compared to other filters.
These filters have extremely restricted airflow.