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What Type of HVAC Air Filter Should I Use?

HVAC air filter

Besides the thermostat, the air filter is the next most common HVAC component you will interact with. It should be changed every few months. The frequency depends on how much you use your HVAC system, if your home is particularly dusty, or if you have pets. Another major consideration is the type of HVAC air filter to use. We’ll look at a few options to help you decide.

What Are MERV Ratings?

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, identifies how well a filter can capture particles, especially those in the 0.3- to 10-micron range. It’s used to compare how different filters perform. Therefore, the higher the MERV rating, the more effective the filter is at trapping particles.

For example, a MERV 1-4 filter will capture just 20% of particles in the 3.0- to 10.0-micron range. MERV 7 filters will capture less than or equal to 50% of them. A MERV 11 filter captures up to 20% of 0.3- to 1.0-micron particles, up to 65% of 1.0- to 3.0-micron particles, and up to 85% of 3.0- to 10.0-micron particles. However, a MERV 16 filter will capture up to 95% of particles at all of these size ranges, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Types of HVAC Air Filters

The many types of air filters on the market are designed to improve air quality. The type you choose depends on your HVAC system and the air quality in your home. Here are the most common forms of HVAC filters you’ll find:

Flat Panel Filters

These disposable filters are basically a thin layer of fiberglass that can trap only large particles. They’re not effective at removing dust or allergens. The thinner material causes less strain on an HVAC system.

Pleated Filters

Contain cotton or polyester folds that more effectively capture dust, pollen, pet dander, and mold. The pleats improve the filter’s ability to remove particles from the air and prevent them from recirculating. A variation of the pleated filter is a Lennox expandable filter that Village Plumbing offers.

HEPA Filters

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters cost more than fiberglass or pleated types but are great at screening out a wide range of irritants. However, HEPA filters make it more difficult for your HVAC system to draw in air. Different types are available so it’s possible to find a balance between filtration ability and adequate airflow.

UV Air Filters

These are typically built into a cleaning device contained within an HVAC system. Using ultraviolet light, these filters kill bacteria and viruses in the air but do not remove dust and other non-organic particles as they pass through your AC and heating system. Our technicians can install a UV light in the evaporator and wire it to the unit so it operates when the system is on.

How Do I Decide What Filter to Use?

HVAC air filters come in different sizes. “Nominal” size is an approximation, rounded to the nearest inch, and “actual” is the exact size of the filter. Air filters are measured by their height, width, and thickness. In addition to how effective the material is, the exact fit is important so particles don’t flow around the media and into the HVAC system.

Another factor is the air quality in your home. At Village Plumbing, our trained technicians can provide an indoor air quality assessment and determine what improvements to make. Our team will identify the best options available to address the problem. We offer some of the most effective solutions on the market. 

Contact Village Plumbing

Shop for HVAC air filters on Village Plumbing’s product page. We can assist you in selecting the best filter for your Houston-area home. Filters are replaced during our bi-annual AC and furnace tune-ups. Learn more about our flexible maintenance plans and become a Village Partner Plan member. To request service and get information about our products, coupons, specials, and financing, call 713-526-1491 today.

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