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A/C Filters 101

January 31, 2013 | Blog

While most homeowners have a vague idea of the important work that air conditioning (A/C) filters perform in their homes, there’s probably a lot more you could learn about A/C filters.

What do filters do? Filters are placed in cooling and heating equipment in order to capture airborne particulates before they circulate in your home with the conditioned air emerging from your A/C, heat pump or furnace blower. They protect sensitive components of your equipment while keeping unhealthy particulates such as allergens and mold out of your indoor air.

Are there different types? There are many different types of A/C filters, ranging from the cheap and simple filters, usually blue and non-pleated, that are common at home-improvement stores, to more efficient pleated filters, to advanced boxed media, electrostatic and HEPA filters. Use the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) system to gauge the efficiency of an A/C filter for your home’s HVAC system. In a typical system in a home without special air quality requirements, a filter in the MERV 8-12 range will provide a nice balance of air quality and airflow maintenance.

How often should you change a filter? Air filters should basically be changed when they’re dirty. This can be as often as monthly during high-use seasons, and as infrequently as every three months otherwise. Whatever you do, however, make sure you inspect your air filter regularly and change it when it gets dirty. Otherwise, system airflow will be impeded, and dust will settle on equipment components, leading to operational problems and breakdowns, as well as wasted energy and inefficient cooling.

How do I know if my filter is dirty?  To check if your filter is dirty, pull out the filter and take a look. If you can’t see through the mesh, it’s time to change it. Also if your house is collecting more dust than usual or you have one or more long-haired pets, you’ll want to check your A/C filters more often.

Where can I buy filters?  At Mathews CCAC we sell filters of all shapes, efficiencies, and sizes.   You may be surprised at how competitively we are price wise.  Pull out the filter that’s currently in your A/C or heat pump to see the proper dimensions.

Is more expensive better? Standard residential A/C filters typically cost anywhere from $2 to $15. If you have allergies or pets, you may want to think about using a more elaborate and expensive air filtration system. One of the main reasons to use a more efficient filter is to keep your air conditioning equipment clean and operating properly.  With the cheap filters you will typically need to clean your indoor coil about every 3 to 4 years.  With the high efficiency filters you may never need to clean your coils.

Have more questions? Please feel free to contact the experts at CCAC, Inc. for any questions about your A/C filters or other home comfort needs. We provide quality HVAC services to homeowners along the Coastal Bend.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about A/C Filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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