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Are Your Furnace and AC Air Filters Good Enough?

July 19, 2023
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Are Your Furnace and AC Air Filters Good Enough?

A Guide to Choosing and Maintaining Filters

Maintaining good indoor air quality is essential for our health and comfort, and one crucial aspect of achieving this is ensuring that your furnace and air conditioning (AC) filters are up to the task.

The Importance of Air Filters
Air filters play a vital role in maintaining clean and healthy indoor air. They trap dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and other airborne particles, preventing them from circulating in your home. Clean air filters can also enhance the efficiency and lifespan of your HVAC system by preventing dust buildup on critical components.

What to Look for in an Air Filter:

  1. Efficiency Rating
    Air filters are typically rated using the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale, which ranges from 1 to 20. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter’s ability to capture smaller particles. For residential and office use, a filter with a MERV rating between 8 and 13 is generally recommended. Operating rooms, and laboratories where clean air is imperative require a MERV of 17 or above. If you have a person living with you who has respiratory challenges you might consult your doctor on obtaining a filter rated MERV 17 or above.
  2. Filter Material
    Different filters use various materials, including fiberglass, polyester, pleated paper, and electrostatic materials. The materials are not as important as the MERV rating above. Pleated filters are usually more effective in capturing particles due to their larger surface area.
  3. Filter Size
    It’s crucial to choose a filter that fits your HVAC system correctly. Air escaping through the sides due to gaps is not acceptable. Refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or consult an HVAC professional to determine the appropriate size for your system.

How Often to Change Air Filters
The frequency of filter changes depends on several factors, such as the filter type, the number of occupants, pets in the household, and local air quality. Many people are on a minimum plan, changing filters in the spring or the fall anticipating the high-use winter and summer seasons. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to check your air filter every 30 days and replace it every 90 days, or sooner if it appears dirty or clogged. However, if you have allergies, live in a dusty environment, or have pets, you may need to replace the filters more frequently.

Innovations in Modern Air Filters

  1. HEPA Filters
    We have discussed High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters for internal air cleaning units. While HEPA filters are commonly used in commercial settings, they are now available for residential HVAC systems too.
  2. Electrostatic Filters
    These filters use an electrostatic charge to attract and capture particles. They are particularly effective at trapping smaller particles and can be washable or disposable, offering long-term cost savings.
  3. Smart Filters
    With the rise of smart home technology, there are now air filters equipped with sensors that monitor air quality and alert you when it’s time to change the filter. These filters can provide real-time data on indoor air quality and optimize filter replacement schedules.

Selecting the right air filter and regularly maintaining it is crucial for improving indoor air quality and optimizing the performance of your HVAC system. Consider the efficiency rating, filter material, and size when choosing a filter, and follow manufacturer guidelines for replacement intervals.

Remember, your LACOSTA site manager can provide personalized recommendations and a maintenance plan based on your specific filter needs and system requirements.

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