With the fire season approaching, us Californians need to prepare efficiently and effectively. One way to do so is to verify you are up to date on maintenance which includes a filter change, and knowing what type of filter you have in case of an emergency.
What are the different types of air conditioning filters for your home?
HEPA filters offer the highest level of protection against a variety of airborne particles. They have the capacity to trap particles that are as small as 0.3 microns and catch 99.97% of airborne particles. In addition, HEPA filters have a MERV rating of between 17 and 20. This type of filter, however, usually doesn’t fit residential HVAC systems that have sizing and airflow restrictions to consider. If you’re keen on getting HEPA filters for your home, modifications will have to be made by an HVAC contractor.
Reusable Air Filters
Reusable air filters are washable filters that can simply be cleaned up and used again. This type of filter is typically more expensive than the disposable kind, and has a low MERV rating of between one and four. This makes reusable air filters prone to mold or mildew growth, which can be expected as frequent washing and incorrect drying can produce the aforementioned fungi.
Flat-Paneled Fiberglass Filters
This type of filter is disposable, and is layered with fiberglass and a metal-reinforcing grate. It also has a low MERV rating, so it won’t do much for your home when it comes to air purification.
Pleated Media Filter
These filters are disposable. Typically, they have a MERV rating of between five and 13. However, pleated media filters also have high-efficiency versions that have a MERV rating between 14 and 16. The design of this type of filter is intended to increase the surface area, which improves its filtration efficiency as well. These are the filters we use in all of our units, and personal homes. They are the cheapest and most efficient option, and will keep the air in your home purified and safe.
How do you know what type of filter you should run in your home?
The industry standard is to use the air filter rating system of Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The MERV rating system helps you choose the best furnace air filters to fit your home’s needs. Each rating dictates the effectiveness of a filter. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers (ASHARE) recommends a MERV 6 or higher. Most residential areas can remove contaminants with MERV 8 to MERV 13, while most hospitals use MERV 14 to MERV 20.Some examples of MERV below:
MERV 1 to MERV 4: Pollen, dust mites, standing dust, spray paint dust and carpet fibers.
MERV 5 to MERV 8: Mold spores, hair spray, dust mites, animal dander and cement dust.
MERV 9 to MERV 12: Humidifier dust, lead dust, auto emissions and milled flour.
MERV 13 to MERV 16: Household dust and pollen, pet dander, outdoor pollution, mold spores, microscopic allergens, bacteria, most tobacco smoke, sneeze bacteria and virus carriers.
What will happen if you don’t run the right type of air conditioning filter in your home?
Using the wrong filter for your unit won’t necessarily damage it, but it does have an effect. Using the wrong size filter for your unit reduces the efficiency of the heating and cooling system, which will likely cause overuse of your unit and lead to a shorter lifespan. It can also incorrectly remove the dust from your house, leading to a build up on the fans and motors which overtime dirties your furnace and can lead to costly repairs.