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The Truth Behind HVAC Air Filters

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

With the winter quickly approaching, you’ve probably seen multiple offers for heating tune-ups. Cleaning or replacing your heating unit’s filter is one of the pieces that should be incorporated as a part of the maintenance. With all of the attention that indoor air quality receives and its influence on respiratory illness and allergies, you may think that replacing your air filter in your HVAC unit will help improve the situation. The reality, however, may actually be quite different.

Dirty allergen reduction air filter
Dirty allergen reduction air filter

The Air Filter’s Role

While a clean air filter will keep your indoor air quality higher than a filter that’s dirty, it’s wrong to assume that you’re better off with something that’s marketed as a high-efficiency filter. This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but here’s why:

HVAC Air Filters

Your heating or air conditioning unit’s air filter is there primarily to protect the equipment from becoming dirty and clogged. It’s not cleaning your home’s indoor air as much as you may believe, since your HVAC unit doesn’t run continuously throughout the year. Also, most duct registers aren’t located in areas where the majority of particulates that influence indoor air quality accumulate, so there isn’t a chance for them to be filtered out.

HVAC Air Filter Types

Air filters made of different materials offer a variety of options for your home’s HVAC unit.

Fiberglass Air Filters

Basic fiberglass air filters offer protection for your heating and cooling system from large pollutants, but do not stop smaller ones from passing through.

Electrostatic Air Filters

Electrostatic air filters are washable, which means they can be reused many times before being replaced. They have multiple layers of vented metal which rely on static electricity to filter small, light particles.

Pleated Air Filters

Compared to standard fiberglass filters, pleated air filters provide much more surface area. They also tend to last longer and capture more airborne particles.

MERV Ratings for Air Filters

The MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, for air filters is based on their ability to remove particles from the air. A low MERV value signifies that a filter isn’t very effectively able to stop smaller pieces of dust and particulates from passing through. A higher MERV value (up to 20) means the filter is more efficient at filtering small pollutants.

Are High-Efficiency Air Filters for HVAC Units Better?

While experts in the industry are in agreement about the fact that air filters need to be replaced regularly, there is a lot more discussion around which filters are actually best. For example, simple fiberglass filters have a lower MERV value and are inexpensive to replace. They filter larger particles, although they do allow smaller particulates to pass through. High-efficiency air filters are more capable of removing even the smallest particles, although they have a major disadvantage in residential applications.

Dirty allergen reduction air filter
Dirty allergen reduction air filter

High-efficiency HVAC filters can actually cause airflow to slow, which may result in trapped air and decrease the efficiency of your unit. Reduced airflow can reduce your system’s efficiency, which in turn increases energy bill costs and can decrease the lifespan of the heating or air conditioning unit.

Building Performance Can Help Optimize Your HVAC System

Building Performance experts can help you determine the air filter appropriate for your Kentucky home’s heating or cooling system. We take into consideration all the factors important to you while still ensuring your unit is as efficient as possible.

Let Building Performance ensure you have a high performing HVAC unit. Contact us or call (502) 509-5535 to schedule a consultation!

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Unknown member
Apr 11

For anyone looking to prolong the life of their HVAC system and improve indoor air quality, I highly recommend scheduling air filter services with HVAC Contractor Riviera Beach company. Their attention to detail and commitment to customer satisfaction are unmatched


Unknown member
Nov 09, 2023

I never realized how important HVAC filter replacement was until I had it done by HVAC Repair Diamond Bar company. The improvement in air quality is noticeable, and I can already feel the difference in my home.

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