Everything you wanted to know about Air Conditioner Filters.
Who thinks they change their Air Conditioning Filters enough? How do you know?
Hopefully this article will help you understand the differences between all those choices at the big box store – and to be sure your service company is doing you right!
On a general basis, most of the one inch filters should be changed at least every 60-90 days. The nicer filters, with more pleats
Generally, most 1” furnace filters should be changed at least every 2 to 3 months. Larger, cartridge type, pleated filters might go up to 12 months depending on conditions.
I’m willing to bet most people (when they remember) replace them either when they are cleaning and see the accumulated dust around the intake vents, or when they notice the air flow has almost stopped. (Of course by then the unit might be frozen solid too!)
The goal is to change your filters on a regular basis to prevent other maintenance problems clogged filters can cause.
Who chooses the $1.98 filters because you might not know the difference? After all, surely they wouldn’t sell something that does not work would they? I am not answering that one!
Actually those ‘less expensive’ filters do work – for certain size particulates. Without going into too much detail, let’s just break down the different options.
Mechanical Air Conditioner Filters (any filter that has a filtering element)
Fiberglass air filters. These are the very thin, flat surfaces made of fiberglass. Their job is to protect the AC unit and not really to improve air quality. These filters will remove somewhat less that 10% of the pollutants from the air – but they do filter out the particulate that would clog your AC.
Pleated Air Conditioner Filters. They look like cloth with raised pleats. The more pleats equals more efficiency as air can move easier through the pleats. Pleated filters can remove up to 45% of the air pollutants. Look for filters with about 18 pleats per foot and a rating of 11.
High-efficiency Air Conditioner Filters are the best choice for most residential HVAC systems as they can remove up to 85% of the air pollutants! These filters can trap very small particles of dust, pollen, mold, and other irritants and have several other advantages. High efficiency filters can be coated with chemicals designed to kill bacteria and mold.
Using these filters will allow your heating and cooling equipment to perform better, and might even lower your operating costs.
HEPA (or High Efficiency Particulate Air) Air Conditioner Filters. These provide the best filtration for your home by removing up to 98% of air pollutants.
Unfortunately, to accomplish these the air must pass through a very fine filter which restricts air flow. This restriction is not normally possible with a standard system as it is too much for the air handler.
To use a HEPA system a separate filtration system must be installed that pulls some of the air out of the regular system, filters it, and then adds it back in to the system. Over time all the air will pass through the HEPA system.
If you were not aware, indoor air pollution is ranked among the top 5 environmental health risks! With this knowledge, you can decide how important filters are to your family’s health.
We recommend you leave the cheap filters on the shelf.
Go ahead and splurge for the best filter you can get. Short of installing a true HEPA system, look for high pleat number and a value of at least 10.
Your family will be healthier, and you might not have to dust so much!