Are all Air Filters the Same?

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By now you’ve probably heard how important it is to change your home’s air filter on a regular basis. But when the time comes to replace it, does it really matter what kind of filter you choose? Aren’t all filters basically the same?

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The short answer is, no, they’re not all the same. In fact, there are many different types of air filters available and choosing the right one can make a real difference in the lifespan of your HVAC system.

To understand the differences in the filters available, there’s a couple of things you need to know.

  1. All filters are rated using the MERV scale. Filters for residential use are generally rated from 1-13, with higher-rated filters being used in places like hospitals and laboratories.
  2. Higher-rated filters have smaller openings, which is supposed to make them able to catch smaller particles in the air. A MERV 2 filter will only catch the largest particles, while a MERV 10 filter is supposed to catch very small particles like pet dander.
  3. You might think you should just get the highest MERV rating you can find for a price you can afford. But it’s not quite that simple. You see, the higher the MERV rating, the more the filter restricts air flow.
  4. If the air flow is restricted by the filter, then the HVAC unit has to work harder to pull air through it. This means that a higher MERV filter can cause the unit to burn out or the coils to freeze. Uh oh.
  5. And the truth is that those higher-MERV residential filters don’t really do that great of a job cleaning the air. Plus, they get clogged up with dirt and dust very quickly, which reduces the air flow to your HVAC unit even more.
See Also: Most Common Air Conditioning Problems

If you want to actually clean the air as it flows through your HVAC system, you should consider installing a whole-house air purifier or a UV light that goes inside of your HVAC unit. These will more effectively clean your air without harming your HVAC unit by decreasing air flow.

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For our customers, we recommend using the cheapest, lowest-MERV disposable filters, combined with the above. These filters will protect your HVAC unit from the dust and dirt that could actually harm it, while allowing the air to flow freely. That way your unit won’t work too hard and shorten its lifespan.

Plus, these filters only cost about $2 each, making it easy to replace them every month. Regularly replacing your air filter is the best thing you can do to help keep your HVAC system humming along. A clean, basic filter beats a fancy, dirty filter every time!

See Also: Air Purifiers
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