With the arrival of warm weather, HVAC air filters work overtime as air conditioners kick in all over South Texas. Changing HVAC filters deserves a place on anyone’s spring cleaning checklist, and this season also provides an opportunity to consider upgrading to a better filter.
All air filters essentially do the same job. They remove particles from the air that passes through your HVAC system, keeping it clean and improving the quality of the air you breathe. The question is, how well is your filter doing its job? These four basic types of air filters fit most situations, and offer a significant improvement over the disposable panel filters used in many homes:
- Washable Filters: Though reusable, these filters have several disadvantages. Once used, they never get completely clean, which can restrict air flow. They are also very ineffective at catching small particles.
- Pleated Filters: These filters are similar to the commonly-used disposable panel filters, but the pleated surface gives them a greater surface area, allowing them to trap more particles and be more efficient.
- High-Efficiency Pleated Filters: As their name suggests, these filters are very efficient, their increased surface area allows the material to be denser and catch smaller particles. The only downside is that they need to be changed frequently.
- HEPA Filters: High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are about as efficient as air filters get. They don’t fit in all home HVAC systems, but they are among the only filters that can trap particles on a sub-micron level.
To assess the effectiveness of an air filter, look for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating on its packaging. MERV ratings indicate the size of particles a filter can catch. Higher ratings mean smaller particles, so the higher the better. High-efficiency filters typically have a rating between 10 and 16, while disposable panel filters are often rated between 1 and 4.
Filters should be changed regularly. Your home and the type of filter you use will determine how often yours will need to be changed. Changing a clean filter does you no good. Filters typically get more efficient as they start to load up, but if allowed to get too dirty they will restrict the airflow and may cause mechanical problems with the system.
For more information on air filters, and for all your HVAC needs, contact Constantly Concerned About Customers (CCAC). We’ve been serving the Coastal Bend region since 1979.
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 HVAC air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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