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Knowing Your AC Filter 101

Knowing Your AC Filter 101 by AC Today

One of the more frequent questions asked from customers is regarding their AC filters. Even though it is a small component of your system, the AC filter plays a large part. The AC filter is a barrier, that blocks dust and debris from being transferred throughout your home. Over time, the build-up of debris will cause your AC filter to no longer be adequate. That is the time for a new filter. Most homeowners do not change their AC filters as they should, instead some wait till their home gets “stuffy”, then change it. This is counter productive. When you pull your AC filter out and its covered in dust, you have waited too long to change it. You should not have debris falling off your filter. Not only is home air filtration a serious matter, it is also one of the most overlooked feature of our home. For those who suffer from numerous respiratory health conditions, it is imperative that you understand the basics of your AC filter.

Changing Your AC Filter

There are many reasons to justify why you should replace your AC filter frequently. If you are a pet owner, you may notice that you change your AC filter more often. That is because the dander and hair is being recycled through your AC filter. If you notice excessive dust around your home, that is a good sign indicating that it may be time. You will notice layers of dust on your shelves and other areas close to an air vent. Having a routine schedule is appropriate for your AC filters. The average date span would be about every 2-3 months. Your air conditioning technician can provide you with a more accurate date span, if needed. Although, if you suffer from major allergies, you may want to change your AC filter more frequently. Living in Florida, many people have developed allergies to pollen. With the pollen counts, so high during certain times of the year, you may want to consider replacing your AC filters every month. This will allow for a cleaner, less polluted air quality in your home.

Many homeowners are not quite sure about when to check their AC filters. A good way to remind yourself to at least check you filter, is to use your monthly utility bill as a reminder. After all, if your not changing your filter, you are costing yourself more money on utilities. If you are not already in a routine, there are a few telltale signs that it’s time to change your AC filter. The first thing you need to do is visually inspect it. If you own a non-pleated, mesh filter (the most common), be sure that you are able to see through it. If for some reason, any part of the AC filter is blocked, that is a warning sign that you need to change it. If you have purchased a pleated AC filter (the more expensive ones), you are able to visibly see the dirt. The more expensive filters will allow you to wait longer periods due to the durability and weave of the filter material. But is an expensive AC filter worth the extra money? Your air conditioning technicians will tell you that it depends on your circumstances. Every household is different. If you have severe allergies or shedding pets, you may have better benefits from a more expensive AC filter. Unlike an average person who has no pets, they could benefit from a cheaper AC filter since there is not excessive amounts of dust, debris and dander floating around their home.

Know Your AC Filter

Did you know that there are different types of AC filters? Some more expensive than others. However, they all get the same job done. An AC filter is measured in MERV ratings (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). The lower the rating, the lower quality your AC filter has. When looking on the shelf, you will find numerous styles, colors and sizes. It is important to know your AC filter. If you try to install the wrong sized filter, debris will fly right around it. Gather all the information you need before purchasing the wrong one. There are several types of AC filters that are on the market. Many ranging in prices and quality. With most filters looking like a honeycomb pattern, it is not hard to get them confused. Here are a few types of AC filters.

Pleated AC filters
This filter can remove up to 45 percent of air pollutants in your home. It has a MERV rating of 10-13. This would cost you about $10, depending on your local area.

Fiberglass AC Filters
This filter is very thin. It has a simple flat panel surface. This type of filter was originally designed for your air conditioning equipment, not to improve the quality of your air. The cost is about $1-2 which is very cheap. However, the MERV rating is only between 1-4. This is the lowest rating an AC filter can have. Only 10 percent of air pollutants are removed from the air, in turn will eventually contaminate your system and ductwork.

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filters
True HEPA filters can remove up to 98 percent of pollutants. This is the highest rating from MERV which is 17 to 20. However, these AC filters can only be used with a whole house air filtration system. It could also be used with a freestanding air purifier. It takes a large amount of pressure to force air through the filters. This is what makes them extremely efficient. A normal HVAC system could not support this type of filter as it is not powerful enough to penetrate the filter. This causes no air to blow from your registers. Even though they are a bit pricy, it is well worth the effects it has on your indoor air quality.

High-efficiency AC Filters
This is the most practical filter in most residential HVAC systems. It can remove up to 85 percent of pollutants. It has a MERV rating of 14 to 16, which is the second highest rating. These commonly known AC filters, are the most recommended by air conditioning technicians. Since it removes most all debris and dust, these filters are great for those with allergies.

*Please note, in some cases, a super high efficiency filter can cause the system to run a bit harder and reduce the longevity of the blower motor. in extreme cases the system will not cool like it should.

Talking with your air conditioning company is the most helpful tip you can get. Discuss with them the concerns you may have and health issues that are within the home. Together, you can decide on what AC filter best suites the needs of you, your family and your A/C system. Remember, air conditioning maintenance is very important when it comes to your system. Your technician will also inspect your AC filter to see if it needs to be changed. If you notice that certain months are heavier than normal, try changing your AC filter more frequently. Always consult with your technician is you are unsure or have further questions.

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