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How to Choose the Right Air Filter For Your HVAC System

Right Air Filter
Posted on in Articles

When you want to keep your Pinehurst, Texas, home free from pollen, pet dander, mold, and other airborne pollutants, you have to have the right air filter. So which one is right for your home? Get to know some of the most common air filter and purifier options, and learn how to choose the right air filter for your HVAC system.

Disposable vs. Reusable Air Filters

While most HVAC air filters are disposable, some are reusable, as long as you wash them thoroughly between uses. Washable air filters tend to have higher price tags than standard disposable filters, but since you can reuse them several times, the cost easily balances out. So in fact, reusable air filters are often less expensive in the long run than disposable ones.

One of the most significant downsides to reusable air filters is that you’ll need to remove, disassemble, and wash them thoroughly approximately once a month. You’ll also need to let them dry completely after washing, so you may need to turn off your HVAC system during the cleaning process.

Though washable filters help reduce waste, some homeowners have noted that these filters don’t always trap large airborne particles. If your household includes allergy or asthma sufferers, your best bet is using disposable models and learning how to change air filters regularly.

Filter Size

Next, you’ll need to choose the right size filter for your HVAC system. Note that most air conditioners require 1-inch-thick air filters, but some will only work with filters of a different thickness.

You’ll also need to make sure that the filter’s dimensions are compatible with your HVAC system. You’ll encounter a few standard sizes when you’re shopping for replacement filters, but not every one will work with your system.

Think you can make a filter work if it’s just an inch or so different from your HVAC system’s required filter size? Think again. Air filters must be perfectly sized to keep dust, dirt, debris, and other airborne contaminants from entering your HVAC system and reducing its efficiency.

MERV Rating

Along with a size, every air filter has a minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, rating. This number essentially reveals how effective the air filter is, with lower numbers meaning less effective and higher numbers meaning more effective.

That doesn’t mean you should automatically choose the highest MERV rating you can find, though. As a general rule, most residential air conditioners are designed to work with air filters that have a MERV rating between 7 and 12. These filters are pleated and can trap dust, pollen, and pet dander.

Air filters with MERV ratings from 13 to 16 are incredibly effective at removing contaminants from the air, but their small pores can restrict air flow to such a degree that most air conditioners can’t force air through them. That means that choosing a MERV rating that’s too high can significantly reduce your air conditioner’s efficiency and may even lead to a breakdown. When in doubt, check your air conditioner to determine the right MERV rating, or ask a Thermacon Service Company team member during an HVAC maintenance session.

Whole-Home Air Purifiers

If your home frequently has issues with mold, dust mites, pollen, or other airborne contaminants, there’s a good chance you need more than a straightforward air filter. In that case, our team typically recommends investing in a whole-home air purifier, which is like a next-level air filter.

Whole-home air purifiers are no ordinary portable units. Instead, they work with your HVAC system to capture over 95 percent of airborne particles 0.3 micron and larger. These devices can remove almost every speck of pollen, pet dander, dust, and even tobacco smoke from the air. Many also capture and kill airborne bacteria and viruses, which can be particularly helpful during cold and flu season. Whole-home air purifiers also help protect your HVAC system so that it will remain effective for years to come.

Ready to take your indoor air quality to the next level? Call 866-797-1535 to talk to our air filter experts at Thermacon Service Company.

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