People the world over know Florida for its abundant sunshine. However, this sunshine brings high temperatures, and homeowners in the state recognize the importance of central air conditioning to keep the interior of the home cool on blazing hot days. Like every appliance in the home, the owner must maintain the HVAC system to keep it running optimally. The air filter plays a major role in the operation of this system.
An air filter functions to remove particles from the air. This includes bacteria, dust, dander, and more. By trapping these particles, the filter prevents them from being distributed throughout the home via the system. The filter improves the air quality of the home while protecting the system from damage. Why is this important?
The Dangers of Indoor Air
Individuals today spend the majority of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Thanks to advances in technology homes today remain better sealed and insulated. Furthermore, they are more energy-efficient than their older counterparts. This benefits the homeowner in many ways, but these advances trap pollutants in the home. As a result, outdoor air is much healthier than indoor air today. To improve air filtration in the home, individuals must know which type of air filter to purchase. The following options serve as the most popular today.
Air Filter Options
Consumers find they have options when it comes to filters for their HVAC system. Each filter comes with different capabilities, and the owner must understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type. Furthermore, the price points vary by the type and size selected.
Flat-panel filters remain the most affordable filters offered today. They come with fibers, commonly made of fiberglass, that stretch across a frame. These fibers trap particles in the air but fail to do a good job. However, homeowners find them easy to install, and they come at an affordable price. When a person replaces them, the filter goes in the trash.
Pleated filters serve as another single-use option. These filters consist of dense cotton or plastic fiber screens designed to trap particles from the air. The pleats provide more surface area to filter the air and catch debris. Expect to pay slightly more for this style.
Electrostatic filters come in many types. However, all are electrostatically charged to capture particles from the air, even those that are very small. This type of filter collects smoke, pollen, bacteria, and more. Homeowners find they can choose flat or pleated versions along with disposable or washable types.
Some homeowners invest in washable filters to reduce their carbon footprint and save money over the long run. Available in flat-panel and pleated versions, these filters come clean with a hose or vacuum. The major drawback to this type involves those that are electrostatically charged. They lose this charge over time, which means the filter is no longer able to capture smaller particles. As a result, the homeowner must replace them every few years.
Doctors often recommend HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filters for individuals suffering from allergy or asthma. The Energy Department endorses these filters that remove a minimum of 99.97 percent of particles present in the air as long as they are at least 0.3 microns. Commercial settings requiring extremely clean air use these filters, such as medical practices, as do many households to improve overall air quality. However, not all HVAC systems can use super-dense filters, so talk to the HVAC installation term to learn if they are appropriate for your unit.
Air Filter Ratings
Every air filter comes with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers developed this scale, which runs from one to 16. Weaker filters come with lower numbers while stronger ones receive a higher value. Consumers must know certain brands use their own rating system, and the Federal Trade Commission and Environmental Protection Agency created the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) scale to measure air purifier efficiency. As with the MERV scale, higher numbers on the CADR scale signify better overall performance.
Choosing an Air Filter
Determine the needs of the home’s residents before purchasing an air filter. Individuals with allergies need a filter with a higher rating in most cases. Nevertheless, the system must be strong enough to push the air through filters designed to block tiny particles. If the unit cannot push the air through the filter, this leads to reduced airflow and less efficient cooling. The system works harder to try to accomplish this goal, which can lead to excessive wear and tear on the unit and costly repairs. Speak to the HVAC technician to learn which air filter is best for the home.
Once this information has been determined, consider the air filter budget for the home. Finally, learn the dimensions of the home’s ventilation openings. This may narrow the choices, as the homeowner must ensure the filter fits the ventilation opening if it is to be effective.
Maintaining the Air Filter and System
Air filters need regular cleanings or replacement to ensure the proper functioning of the system and clean air in the home. Fortunately, maintaining the filter is easy, as it simply slides or pops out of the ventilation opening. Speak with the HVAC tech to learn how often the filter should be changed, as this depends on many factors. However, most experts recommend the filters be changed or cleaned monthly.
Individuals need to consider additional factors that may influence how often the filters need to be changed. For instance, dirty ducts may lead to the need to change the filters more often, and the same holds when the home is undergoing a construction or remodeling project. The extra residue in the air could lead to a clogged filter if the filter isn’t changed regularly.
Write the date the filter is changed or washed on its spine. This ensures the homeowner knows when the task must be completed next. Another option involves purchasing smart filters that use sensors to monitor airflow through the filter. This filter sends an alert to the homeowner when the filter needs to be changed.
Never neglect the filters in the HVAC system. A failure to replace or clean the filters puts additional strain on the system and can lead to early failure of the unit. More importantly, dirty filters negatively impact the health of the home’s occupants, and nobody wants that. Find a way to track when filters need to be changed or cleaned so this is never a concern.
About Air and Energy:
Air & Energy serves as a person’s one-stop solution for air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical needs. A family-owned company, Air & Energy strives to be a homeowner’s premier home service provider. The team strives to provide an experience that is Simply Better in every way.