What Type of Air Filter is Best for Your Home?

The right HVAC filters can make the difference between clogged air full of contaminants and clean air that is healthy and easy to breathe. Understanding the different types of air filters for homes is the first step to getting the best indoor air quality you deserve. A secondary benefit of a good oven air filter is improved IAQ, which means the whole family breathes better. Good air filters can stop biological contaminants, pet dander, dirt, mold spores, and other contaminants.

Cheap air filters can stop only the largest particles (sand and sand, hair, dust). The main difference between types of air filters is their ability to filter various airborne contaminants present in your home. This skill depends on the type and arrangement of materials used. For example, tightly woven layered material will filter better than thinner material.

So, should you always go for the highest rated air filter types? In fact, a high-efficiency air filter can make your HVAC system less efficient. As the filter traps more fine particles, it blocks airflow through the heat exchanger. Your system works harder to heat or cool the air, resulting in higher energy bills and a greater risk of your oven being damaged by overheating. The thicker the air filter, the longer it will last.

A 1-inch filter will clog with particulate matter much faster than a 4- or 5-inch filter. When looking at the packaging, check the manufacturer's recommended replacement dates. This will give you a good idea of the value of a thicker air filter. However, because they have a relatively small surface area for trapping particles, they cannot trap the smallest contaminating particles that threaten your health.

Least efficient flat panel types include 1-inch disposable fiberglass filters that come standard in most home heating and cooling systems. Flat panel filters made of synthetic material are somewhat more efficient, and denser ones can slightly improve air quality. If you find any of these in your HVAC system, consider upgrading to a more efficient type. Their larger surface area and density allow them to trap tiny particles that you might inhale.

That includes mold spores, as well as the smallest particles of pollen and pet dander, which the least efficient filters overlook. Like flat panel filters, pleated filters are also disposable, but last longer than flat filter types. There is no boiler air filter in your system to improve the air in your home; its role is to protect your heating. With all the different types of HVAC air filters available at the average home improvement store, choosing the right one can be confusing.

Older HVAC systems or systems with leaking ducts may perform better when equipped with filters with lower MERV ratings. The minimum value of the efficiency reports rates the effectiveness of the air filters on a scale of 1 to 20, with 20 being the most effective. The primary function of HVAC air filters is to remove harmful particles from the air as it flows through the system. The risk of using these filters is that if you forget to change them as scheduled, they can become so clogged that they will prevent airflow to the point of reducing system efficiency and causing excessive component wear.

Second, while ultraviolet light filters remove bacteria and viruses from the air, they do little against pollutants such as dust. Because most residential HVAC systems don't have a fan motor strong enough to compensate for this slowdown, a HEPA filter would damage the motor. The next part of choosing the right air filter is deciding on an appropriate level of particulate capture efficiency. It usually appears somewhere on the filter packaging, with recommendations based on the filter and your home conditions.

Because choosing an effective yet cost-effective air filter is key, MERV 7 and 8 filters are usually recommended for most homes. If you can find a reusable filter that captures all types of contaminants you need to filter for your family's health needs, then you could pay more money upfront but ultimately save money in the long run. The filter you select will help determine how well your HVAC system works and how clean your indoor air remains. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that consumers contact an HVAC technician to determine which type of air filter is best for their systems.

These filters also work to remove particles from the air, improve indoor air quality, and protect your HVAC system from damage caused by clogged filters or too much airflow restriction.

Willis Diruzzo
Willis Diruzzo

Typical sushi enthusiast. Infuriatingly humble music geek. Typical internetaholic. Subtly charming social media maven. Lifelong bacon buff.