Is your air filter just not doing the job? Are you thinking of an air filter upgrade? If you are, there are several different types of air filter to choose from. While it is always important to look for a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of between 5 and 13, the type of filter you use is just as important as its rating.

There are four major classifications of air filter. The most common filter found in homes is the fiberglass filter. Several older HVAC units were designed specifically to use these filters. This was before the push for better air filtration. These flat panels have a spider web of fiberglass filaments that catch large airborne particles. They don’t really improve your indoor air quality and are basically there to protect the elements of your furnace and air conditioner.

The first level of air filter upgrade is polyester and pleated air filters. These filters have thin, porous sheets made of cotton or polyester. The increased surface area and smaller holes allow these filters to catch smaller dust particles. They will remove about 45 percent of all airborne particles from your home. These have a MERV value of between 8 and 13 and are recommended for most newer HVAC units.

There are washable air filters on the market that seem like a good idea, but in reality they are the worst filter you can own. They don’t filter much better than fiberglass and require a lot of maintenance. They can also develop mold and mildew issues if they are not properly dried before returning them to the unit. Avoid these filters whenever possible.

High efficiency filters, those with thicker, heavier filtration surfaces, will remove more particulate matter from the air (about 85 percent), but may also put a strain on your system’s air handler. Unless your unit is designed specifically for these units, the thicker filter will reduce your system efficiency.

For more information on air filter upgrade options, contact Comfort Systems, the trusted Wichita source of HVAC sales and service expertise.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).