HVAC Air Filters Are All the Same, Right?

HVAC Air Filters Are All the Same, Right?

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HVAC air filters are your first line of defense against contaminated indoor air. Indoor air quality is something we take seriously. Poor air quality aggravates allergies, asthma, COPD and other respiratory or cardiac conditions. At Estes Services, we provide many solutions to improve the air you breathe in your home.

Contrary to what you may think, not all air filters are one and the same. They come in different sizes and types depending on your Atlanta household’s air filtration needs. For some, a simple pleated fiberglass filter is enough, while others may need a more powerful filter such as a media filter or HEPA filter.

To help you choose the best type of HVAC air filter for your home, let’s review key differences.

HVAC Air Filter MERV Ratings

HVAC air filters come in different materials in different thicknesses and sizes, all of which factor into their Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating.

Created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), MERV is a porousness scale ranging from one to 16. The higher an HVAC filter’s MERV, the more contaminants it’s capable of removing from the air.

Which Type of HVAC Air Filter is Right for My Home?

Depending on their type and density, air filters reduce or remove:

  • Dust:  Even the least powerful air filter (MERV 1-4) is able to prevent most dust particles from entering your HVAC system and circulating throughout your home.
  • Pollen, dust mites, and mold: Allergy sufferers should look for air filters designed to trap these contaminants (usually MERV 5-8).
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): If anyone in your household is sensitive to strong odors or anything that off-gases, look for filters with a carbon layer that captures these air pollutants (usually MERV 8-16). VOCs include the gaseous chemicals from new carpeting, furniture, mattresses, paint, even nail polish!
  • Bacteria: HVAC air filters with MERV 13-16 are able to remove bacteria, which make them ideal for those who have a high sensitivity or chronic illness.

Pleated Fiberglass Filters

This type of HVAC air filter has to ability to catch 80 percent of particles 50 microns or larger and 25 percent of particles ranging from three to 10 microns.

Usually MERV 4-14, one-inch pleated fiberglass filters come recommended by manufacturers as minimum protection for your HVAC system because they prevent dust and dirt from building up on fan motors, heat exchangers and other surfaces.

Pleated fiberglass filters with lower MERV ratings filter out large particles to protect furnace components and provide maximum airflow through your unit. Unfortunately, they don’t filter the tiny harmful contaminants that affect your health.

Note pleated fiberglass filters with MERV 8 or higher potentially restrict airflow to your HVAC system. This makes the fan work harder to heat and cool your home, thus reducing efficiency. Check with our technicians to determine which HVAC air filters are the best fit for your home.

Media Filters

If you need better filtration than what a pleated fiberglass filter offers without the airflow restriction, the best solution is a media filter. This type of filter lives between your return plenum and your furnace in a solid cabinet. There it prevents unwanted particles from entering your home’s air. Therefore, a licensed HVAC technician must retrofit your system if it’s not already set up for one.

Another benefit of media filters? With more surface area than one-inch filters, you don’t have to replace your HVAC air filters as often.

HEPA Filters

High-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters capture VOCs, bacteria, viruses airborne pollutants and more. In fact, they filter out 0.3-micron particles.

Because HEPA filters contain super-dense filtration media, they usually require an additional fan to push air through the filter. Your blower or furnace fan won’t be able to move enough air through the filter by itself. This is why HVAC experts recommend installing HEPA filters as part of a system with an included fan.

Improve Your Air Quality with the Right HVAC Air Filters

Installing the right type of HVAC air filter is a great first step toward improving your home’s indoor air quality. For help with choosing the best option for your home please call us. What looks like the best filter in the store may not work well with your HVAC system.

HVAC air filters with supreme filtration often strain systems without the “horsepower” to push air through it.

So if you’d like to install a HEPA filter system or retrofit your current system for a media filter, contact the HVAC pros at Estes Services. You’ll find us in Kennesaw and throughout Atlanta, including Marietta, Decatur, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Druid Hills, Roswell, Midtown and more!