Air Filters: There’s More to Know Than When to Change Them

Air Filters: There's More to Know Than When to Change ThemAs the Atlanta area shifts from heating to cooling mode, it’s a good idea to give some thought to the air filters used in your home’s cooling system. Air filters often get even more of a workout in a steamy Georgia summer than during the winter heating months. Keeping your A/C working efficiently – and cost-effectively – is about more than simply knowing when to change your air filters.

Recommended replacement schedule

The U.S. Department of Energy urges homeowners to change their HVAC filter at least every three months. More frequent changes may be necessary during peak heating and cooling periods, or if the household includes pets or lots of in-and-out traffic (e.g., kids).

Fiberglass filters can be washed. But fiberglass is not the best filtering material, and washing may not remove all trapped debris. In addition, washing can damage air filters with high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV). Replacing a spent filter is the best option, and has become the norm for most homeowners.

Which filter is right for your HVAC system?

You need to strike the proper balance between a filter’s MERV rating and maintaining airflow through your HVAC system. For residential cooling and heating systems, this usually means a MERV rating in the 6-12 range (for residential use, the ratings run from 1-16).

High MERV filters keep more dust and dirt out of your heating and cooling system and out of the air you breathe inside your home. Dirty furnace and A/C components require more frequent maintenance and repairs, and poor indoor air quality can lead to health problems in the home.

However, the same factors that make high MERV filters so efficient – such as denser filtering materials – mean they also may impede system airflow. Thus a filter with a MERV rating of 16 will put too much strain on most residential HVAC systems. On the other hand, a filter with a MERV rating of 11 will trap dust particles as tiny as 1 micron. It will catch nasty contaminants such as dust mites, pollen, mold spores and pet dander.

Still need help?

With more than 30 years of HVAC experience, at Powers Heating & Air, we’ll be glad to help you choose the right air filter for your system – and address any other home comfort concerns. Please contact us today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree City, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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