Did you know that you are more likely to encounter air pollution within your home rather than outside?
This is because people spend the majority of their time indoors. Modern homes are also sealed to prevent either cold or warm air from escaping depending on the season.
While this may reduce your energy bills, it also reduces your air quality since it prevents the rapid exchange of cleaner air from outside.
This places a heavier burden on the filters in your HVAC system. Your air filters are some of the hardest working parts in your home ventilation unit. They trap dust, pollen, pet dander, and disease-causing microbes, cleaning your indoor air.
You’ll definitely want to select the right ones and keep them well maintained.
Different Types of Filters
There are a variety of filters you can choose from.
This is the most cost-effective filter solution. They are usually made from thin materials stretched over a frame. Because they are cheap, most flat-panel brands are disposable.
Of all the different filters available, they also trap the smallest amount of pollutants.
These panels have distinctive folds. These folds increase the surface area of the filter which enables them to catch more of the pollutants in your home.
They are more expensive than flat-paneled filters and are more sturdily built as well, featuring higher quality materials such as cotton.
These use an electric charge to attract dust and other pollutants, thus pulling them out of the air.
These are available in flat and pleated models and can be disposable or washable. If you choose a washable model, it should be noted that these tend to lose their charge after a period of use and may not be as effective.
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters are some of the most efficient on the market and are designed to capture as much as 98 percent of pollutants in the air.
This makes it perfect for use in places where people have allergies or where the air quality needs to be high, like in a medical facility.
Technology touches everything and this includes AC filters. There are now programmable filters that respond to commands from your smartphone as well as track things like the length of use and airflow.
This may be best if you need timely reminders on your air filter status.
How to choose a filter for your system
Budget and convenience
You should pick filters you can afford to regularly maintain and replace, especially if your home has multiple AC units.
Select filters that fit in with your lifestyle as well. If you know you don’t have time for AC filter changes don’t pick a high maintenance one, or have a company come in to clean or change them for you.
Do you or members of your family have allergies or need the air quality to be high because someone has a chronic respiratory ailment? Do you have any pets? If so, you may need a heavy-duty filter to get rid of pet dander, pollen, and other common allergens.
Your AC/HVAC specs
You can’t select your filters in isolation. You will also need to consider the capacity of your AC unit.
If you choose a high-density filter and your machine is designed for a thinner one, your AC may stop functioning properly. This can place additional stress on the unit resulting in the need for repairs. It may also cause higher energy bills
AC filters have several designated rating systems. Two of these are MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) and CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate). The higher your AC filter rating, the more protection you’ll have against indoor pollutants.
Maintaining your filters
The number of factors will determine how often you need to maintain or change your filters.
- The number of people in your home
- The number of pets
- The location of your home/exposure to environmental pollutants
- The type of filters you use
As a rule, the higher the level of traffic/use in your home, the more often you should clean or replace your filters.
If outside your home is exposed to heavy amounts of dust, eventually this will get inside requiring more maintenance of your filters.
You should clean your filters every 1-3 months depending on the above factors. Most filters can be vacuumed. Many can also be washed. Do not reuse disposable ones.
Pay attention also to when the manufacturer says your filter should be replaced.
The quality of indoor air has become especially important during the COVID 19 pandemic. The last thing any homeowner needs is an AC unit that recirculates the virus, especially in the upcoming summer season when ACs will be on full blast.
Educate yourself on all you need to know about your AC filters as well as maintaining them.