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3 Things to Know about Air Filters in Your Home

All homes need air filters to keep contaminants out. Clean air inside the home contributes to a higher quality of life. But while most homeowners know they need air filters as part of their HVAC system, many don’t realize the important roles these filters play. Or more importantly, how to choose the best air filters for their needs.

 Let’s look at some specifics to help you breathe easy at home year-round:

1. Air Filters Serve Two Purposes

There are two important reasons why you need to make your home’s air filters a top priority. First and foremost, air filters help to keep contaminants from entering your home’s atmosphere. A clean air filter helps to trap dust, dirt, and allergens that can impact your breathing, allergies, asthma, and your health in general.

 The second purpose is to maintain the health of your HVAC system. Air filters allow your system to run as efficiently as possible. Otherwise, the same dust, dirt, and debris that enters your home will also enter your HVAC system components, which can limit its performance and make it work harder than it needs to.

2. Change Your Home Air Filters Every 3 Months

Having a clean air filter is essential, but how often should you change it? The short answer: it depends.

 Most experts agree that the average air filter has a lifespan of about three months. However, if you have allergies or if there are pets in the home, then you should consider replacing the air filter every month.

 Replacement filters come in two types: disposable and washable. Washable air filters are considered “greener” because they create less waste and can be reused time after time. If you choose a washable air filter, it may be years before you will need to replace it with a new one.

 However, consider that washable filters will need to be thoroughly cleaned every 1-3 months. Also, the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating (more on this in the next section) on washable filters is usually not as high as disposable filters and therefore may not be as efficient as trapping allergens and debris as a disposable one.

3. Not All Air Filters are Created Equal

As with most things in your home, there are different types of air filters in a range of MERV ratings. The higher the MERV rating (a scale of 1 to 20), the more effective the filter is at trapping contaminants.

 For example, a MERV rating of 1-4 easily removes carpet fibers, dust, and pollen. A MERV rating of 5-8 is better for pet dander and mold spores, while a MERV rating of 9-12 is ideal for removing auto emissions.

 However, some systems can’t handle high MERV ratings. Typically, you only see a MERV 20 in medical settings where air quality is of the utmost importance. Higher MERV ratings make the system work harder to push air through. It’s best to check with your HVAC technician to see what your system requires.

 Typical filter options for homeowners include:

Fiberglass Filters

Fiberglass filters are made of layers of fiberglass and are the most common type of filter in Alabama homes. They’re highly cost effective, but they also tend to lack higher MERV ratings that come with high-tech filters.

Pleated Filters

If air quality is your top priority, then we suggest looking into a pleated filter. These are made of dense cotton or polyester and trap more dust, allergens, and contaminants than fiberglass filters. The tradeoff with pleated filters is that your HVAC system may have to work harder since filter material is thicker.

Electrostatic Filters

Electrostatic filters give off a static charge when in use. They attract pollutants like a magnet to keep them from circulating in your home.

How to Choose an Air Filter for Your Home

Wondering about the best air filter for your home? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you choose an air filter based on your HVAC system requirements and lifestyle needs.

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