With the winter season around the corner, majority of Bay Area homeowners are retiring their air conditioners and getting ready to ramp up the heat. An important component of this preparation is replacing the HVAC filters. However, it’s vital to understand that all filters are not the same. And, you should give careful consideration to the type of filter you are planning on purchasing.
Varying degree of filtration is provided by different furnace filters. Some filters are reusable while others are not. There are certain compatibility issues that you should be aware of as well. This guide will talk about the different types of air filters so you can make a well-informed decision while choosing one that is right for you.
1. Fiberglass HVAC Filters
MERV refers to minimum efficiency reporting value, which indicates a filter’s capacity to trap particles. Spun fiberglass filters have a MERV rating between 1 and 4. This means that the filter would be able to trap only about 80% particles that are sized 50 microns and more. The filter will also be able to trap 25% particles with a size ranging from 3 – 10 microns.
Fiberglass filters offer the minimum amount of filtration required to keep a home free from large dust particles and hair. The filter is focused on preventing large particles from settling on your HVAC components where they might cause possible damage. Fiberglass air filters allow for maximum airflow, but don’t help towards improving indoor air quality. Fiberglass HVAC filters may be the right choice for you if you don’t have any allergies, pets, or chronic respiratory conditions.
2. Pleated HVAC Filters
Pleated HVAC filters are mid-range. They are rated between MERV 5 – 8. The filters are capable of trapping most airborne pet dander, pollen and dust mites that are as small as 5 microns. This is one of the most popular filters across North America. The filter is characteristic of a V-shaped chevron pattern.
Your furnace will need to work a little hard for pushing air through pleated filters, which increases energy costs minutely. However, the resulting improvement in IAQ is worth the increase. People with mild allergies and pets generally benefit from a pleated air filter.
3. Electrostatic HVAC Filters
Electrostatic air filters have a MERV rating between 2 – 10. They feature self-charging fibers, which attract air particles without increasing weave tightness. Air can pass through more efficiently while allowing the filter to trap larger particles measuring 1 – 3 microns.
Electrostatic air filters are available in washable versions unlike other types of filters. They may cost more upfront, but you can always reuse them after cleaning. The filters are highly recommended if you want ample airflow without compromising on filtration.
4. HEPA Filters
HEPA or High-efficiency particulate arrestance filters are one of the most efficient filters available. They have a MERV rating of 17 – 20. The filters are capable of trapping 95% fine dust, mold, viruses, and bacteria that measure 0.3 microns or more.
However, HEPA filters come with a serious disadvantage – they drastically restrict airflow to the system. Your furnace may overheat if you haven’t ensured compatibility. This type of filtration should only be installed if a family member has asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or severe allergies.