When you understand the importance of your air filter in the operation of your air conditioning equipment, you realize that selecting a replacement filter isn’t a casual decision. Although it isn’t complicated, the variety of choices at your home improvement store may be confusing.
The Role of Air Filters in HVAC Performance
An air filter removes airborne particles such as dust and pet dander from circulation. This can improve the quality of air that you breathe as less material circulates in your air supply. Additionally, the filter keeps these materials from infiltrating your air handler and continuing on to your ducts. Both areas are prone to collecting foreign material, an issue that could affect your system’s efficiency while also facilitating serious indoor air quality conditions.
Pollutants: As pollutants like mold spores circulate, they can collect on your evaporator coils, blower parts, and duct walls. During times of inactivity, temperatures in the area can become warm enough to promote mold and bacteria growth, resulting in health issues for those who are sensitive to the materials. Inattentiveness to your filter can lead to more pronounced problems with these irritants.
System Efficiency: The buildup of particulates in your equipment can inhibit airflow, resulting in poor air circulation and poor comfort levels. Additionally, the collection of dirt on your evaporator coils can prevent refrigerant from effectively removing heat from the indoor air, resulting in poor comfort control results.
3 Tips for Choosing the Best AC Filter for Your Home
However, a few simple tips can help you to select a filter with confidence.
1. Choose the Right MERV Rating
Choosing the right MERV rating ensures efficient filtration. The MERV system was developed by industry professionals in 1987 and is a whole-number rating ranging from 1 to 20. This number is an indicator of filter efficiency in particle removal.
It’s important not to choose a MERV rating that’s too high for your AC system. Doing so can hamper airflow and lead to damage.
Here are some tips for choosing the right MERV rating for your AC system’s air filters:
MERV Rating 1-4: Units with ratings from 1 to 4 are appropriate for window air conditioners, providing filtration of larger particles.
MERV Rating 5-12: Ratings from 5 to 12 are appropriate for central equipment in residential settings.
MERV Rating 9-12: For superior filtration of small particles, select a unit with a rating from 9 to 12.
MERV Rating 12+: Ratings exceeding 12 are connected with equipment intended for industrial and healthcare environments.
2. Choose the Right Size
It is important that air conditioning filters fit snugly into the intended areas so that gaps don’t allow material to flow freely past.
If you have an existing filter, you should be able to read the dimensions of height, width, and depth.
If you can’t find the dimensions, or you don’t have a filter to measure you can measure the space that will hold your filter. If any of your measurements are fractional, round to the next highest whole numbers.
3. Choosing the Type of Filter
Carbon Filter: An expensive filter isn’t necessarily the best filter. However, you may choose to pay a bit more for a carbon filter if you are concerned with odors in your home. Typical filters won’t address gaseous pollutants and odors, but a carbon filter may help with these issues.
Reusable Filters: Some homeowners like the idea of environmental responsibility, choosing to pay more for reusable filters. These can be washed and reused for many years, saving money over time.