Your air filter is an essential yet often overlooked part of your home’s heating and cooling system. What are air filters? What is their function? Why do we need them? Find these answers and other important information below.
What Is an Air Filter?
An air filter is a multi-layered screen that is a replaceable or washable part of your HVAC system. It helps clean and purify the air while circulating throughout your home. They serve as the first line of defense against airborne contaminants and pollutants that could potentially impact your health.
As air passes through your filters, particulates such as dirt, dust, pollen, allergens, and pet dander become trapped in its layers. Over time particles build up, eventually saturating the filters. Every so often, you will have to replace or wash your filters to keep indoor air clean and your HVAC system running efficiently.
There are various types of filters you can choose from to use with your
HVAC system. All filters have a MERV rating, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. MERV is a method used to assess the efficiency of an air filter based on how effective it is at catching particles of differing sizes. Essentially, the higher the MERV rating, the greater the air filtration abilities of a filter. Therefore, choosing a filter with a high rating is more likely to trap allergens and particles that could potentially impact your health and cause damage to your system.
Fiberglass flat panel disposable air filters are an economical option for many consumers. They do a good job of catching larger particles. However, if you or another household member have allergies or other respiratory issues, you may have to consider a more robust option.
When purchasing an electrostatic filter, you can choose between disposable or washable options. Both disposable and washable electrostatic filters cost more than the fiberglass flat panel types but are much more efficient at trapping troublesome particulates that can lead to respiratory issues. Those who have pets and those who smoke should also consider adding this extra layer of protection for indoor air quality. An electrostatic filter will also help your heating and cooling system run more efficiently.
Pleated filters can also be washable or disposable. Unlike fiberglass flat panel filters, they have folds that offer more surface area to catch debris. They can also capture very small organisms, such as mold spores and dust mites. While they may require frequent replacement or washing because they catch more debris, they are an excellent way to ensure that you and your family breathe clean air.
HEPA Air Filters
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are the standard for medical facilities and hospitals. Most home HVAC systems are not designed to support HEPA filters. However, if anyone in your household suffers from severe allergies or a compromised immune system, this type of filter may be necessary. High-efficiency filters are an excellent way to improve your indoor air quality.
Are Clean Filters Really Necessary?
The simple answer to this question is yes! Clean filters are necessary to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system and protect your and your family’s health. Following are some reasons why changing or washing your heating and cooling system’s air filters is essential.
Clean Filters Improve Efficiency
Dirt and other particulates can quickly clog up a filter, particularly during winter and summer when your system is working hard. Air cannot pass easily through a dirty filter, so your system must work harder, putting additional strain on all of its components. Stress can cause significant damage to your HVAC system, leading to early wear out and expensive repair and replacement bills. Cleaning or replacing filters is a simple yet effective step to ensure that free-flowing air will extend the life of your system.
Air Filters Improve Air Quality
If your home’s indoor air quality is poor, household members may experience poor sleep, difficulty breathing, and a general lack of energy. Those prone to respiratory issues or autoimmune conditions may experience even more severe health consequences. Replacing or washing your filter according to the manufacturer’s directions will keep dust, debris, and allergens at bay, allowing you and your family to breathe cleaner, healthier air.
Pets Impact on Air Filters
Furry family members contribute to your house’s dust, dirt, and dander build-up. All of this extra debris gets trapped in air filters, keeping them from circulating fresh air throughout your home. The efficient function of your HVAC system depends on regular care and maintenance, so if you have pets changing out or washing filters frequently is a must.
Clean Air Filters Can Reduce Your Energy Costs
A clogged filter causes your system to work harder. You’ll see this on your monthly utility bill as prices skyrocket and your system remains overtaxed. Your heating and cooling systems account for at least half of your utility costs, so changing out or cleaning your air filter frequently increases the efficiency of your HVAC system, translating to energy savings for you.
Clean Air filters Contribute to a Cleaner Home
HVAC systems with clean filters let less debris circulate through your home. This contributes to a cleaner living environment for you and your loved ones. You’ll find yourself dusting, vacuuming, and mopping less often, as there will be less dirt in your home. A recently replaced or washed filter does a much better job of catching dust and debris before it can land on your furnishings and floors.
Clean Air Filters Promote Peace of Mind
Taking steps to make sure your HVAC system’s air filters are clean gives you peace of mind. Simple steps such as regular maintenance of your HVAC system and changing your air filters will ultimately save you the headache of a breakdown and reduce the stress of repair and replacement costs.
How Often Should Air Filters Be Changed or Washed?
When deciding when and how often to change out or wash your home’s air filters, there are several considerations. Air filters with higher MERV ratings need replacing or washing more often because they catch more debris. You’ll likely need to change or replace filters more often during peak use seasons, whatever filter type you decide to purchase. Those living in households with pets or smokers will need to change out or wash filters more frequently, as filters tend to accumulate more detritus in these circumstances. Always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for replacing or washing filters, and pay close attention to lifespan when purchasing filters for your system.
Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating: Meeting All Your HVAC Needs
In addition to ensuring your air filters are clean, regular maintenance by a professional is essential to preventing breakdowns and extending the lifespan of your HVAC system. Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating is a superior choice for all your heating and cooling needs. We offer our customers the Blue Ribbon Champion Plan, which includes a biannual visit by one of our technicians to service your HVAC system.
You can also talk to one of our indoor air quality (IAQ) experts if you are concerned about poor air quality in your home. Our professionals will test your IAQ and offer solutions to improve the quality of the air your family breathes. Contact Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating today to get started. We look forward to providing you with superior service.