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All Filters Are Not Created Equal

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Air filters are an important key to keeping your home’s heating and cooling system operating the way it should. Clogged or dirty filters can lead to system damage or possible replacement. They can also damage your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ), a contributing factor to your family’s good health. In light of that, performing regular air filter maintenance is crucial to keeping your HVAC system and family happy and healthy.

The good news for most homeowners is that it doesn’t get any easier than air filter maintenance. We all know that air filters should be cleaned or replaced regularly, but you can also test your air filter’s efficiency. at removing pollutants, allergens and other particles from your home and improving IAQ. Place your current air filter horizontally, pour common table salt though the filter and see how much comes out the other side. If some or all of the salt sifts through, this is a sign that your filter will not slow down dust particles or pollutants of similar size. An upgrade to more efficient air filter may be in order.

So, what types of air filters are the best-rated at enhancing IAQ? The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) uses a rating system which tabulates the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). MERV ratings range from 1 (lowest) to 20 (highest), and are determined based on the ability of the air filter to remove particles and resist airflow and the filter’s estimated lifespan.

Here are the three main types of air filters and their MERV ratings:

  • Flat-panel fiberglass. Composed of layers of fiberglass strands, these filters are disposable, inexpensive and usually carry a rating of 1 to 4. While they are generally good at collecting larger airborne particles, the efficiency rating is low to capture smaller dust, dander and bacteria particles.
  • Pleated polyester. Pleated filters have a rating of 5 to 13 and are much more efficient at capturing smaller particles due to their increased surface size. While they come with a higher price tag than fiberglass, they last much longer.
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA). Recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as the best filter for collecting airborne particles and pollutants. HEPA filters are rated from 17 to 20 on the MERV scale, but their size is a negative. Most residential heating and cooling systems are not made to accommodate HEPA filters, so switching to one for your system will likely require an HVAC professional to retrofit your furnace.

Call Masters today for a complete air filter and IAQ inspection. In the meantime, remember to change your air filter regularly Refer to your furnace manual to find out the proper size, open the filter compartment or locate the filter slot, slide out the old one and properly dispose of it. Determine the airflow direction and install the new filter. And don’t forget to call us today for your system’s annual fall tune-up.

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All Filters Are Not Created Equal
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Performing regular air filter maintenance on your HVAC system is not only simple, but very beneficial. Make sure you are using the right air filter.
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