Indoor Air Quality
While keeping your air filter cleaned and replaced regularly will help your heating and cooling system operate the way it should, this is not the only benefit of a good air filter. Air filters can also enhance indoor air quality (IAQ), which is a key component to maintaining your family’s good health. So, performing regular air filter maintenance can help keep both your system and your family happy and healthy.
In this blog, we discuss how you can test your air filter to know when to replace it. We’ll also explain the different types of filters available to homeowners. For all of your heating and cooling needs, including spring and fall HVAC tune ups, contact the trusted technicians at Sanborn’s Air Conditioning & Heating.
How to Test Your HVAC Filter
When it comes to simple or do-it-yourself HVAC maintenance, it doesn’t get any easier than taking care of your air filter. Air filters should be cleaned or replaced regularly to ensure optimial system performance and cleaner indoor air. As for the impact your air filter has on your home’s air quality, there is a simple test to determine how efficient your air filter is at removing pollutants, allergens and other harmful particles from your home.
First, lay your current air filter horizontally, then pour common table salt through the filter. If some or all of the salt passes through the filter, this is a telltale sign that your filter will not slow down or trap other airborne particles of similar size. It may be time for a new filter or to upgrade to a more efficient type of filter.
On a typical HVAC system, filters should be replaced about every three months depending on several variables, including the type of filter you choose for your home.
What Are the Different Choices for Air Filters?
By now you’re probably asking yourself what type of filters are the most efficient at improving IAQ? The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) uses a rating system called the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). MERV ratings for air filters range from 1 (lowest) to 20 (highest) and are based on how efficient the air filter is and how well it captures particles of varying sizes.
The main types of air filters and their MERV ratings are:
Flat-panel fiberglass filters
Fiberglass filters consist of layers of fiberglass fibers and usually carry a low MERV rating between 1 and 4. These inexpensive and disposable filters have a medium efficiency rating for collecting larger airborne particles but a lower rating for capturing smaller dust, dander and bacteria particles. These filters should be replaced every month or two to avoid impeding airflow.
Pleated polyester filters
The pleats allow for more surface area on the filter, which increases its efficiency in capturing smaller air particles and pollutants. Pleated filters normally have a MERV rating of 5 to 13. Because of their higher rating, pleated polyester filters catch smaller particles, including pollen, bacteria, pet dander and some viruses. These filters are a good choice for people who suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory illnesses. A pleated filter can last about three months.
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters
HEPA filters – which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recognizes as the top filter for removing air particles and pollutants – have a rating of 17 to 20. HEPA filters are the best option at removing the finest particles, including pollen, mold, dust, danger and other allergens in your home. They remove at least 99.97% of particles that measure 0.3 microns in diameter. However, their size is a drawback as most residential heating and cooling systems are not built to accommodate HEPA filters. Switching to a HEPA filter will likely mean hiring an HVAC professional to retrofit your heating and cooling system.
Electrostatic air filters, which are also referred to as washable filters, can be cleaned every few months and reused. Homeowners can simply wash and dry the filters before installing them back into the HVAC unit. The average washable filter has a MERV rating of 8.
Contact Sanborn’s for All of Your Heating and Cooling Needs
In the meantime, remember to change your old filter. Check your furnace manual to find out the proper size filter needed, remove the old filter and properly dispose of it. After determining the airflow direction, install the new filter.