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What Kind of Home Air Conditioning Filter is Best?

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An air filter acts as a scrubber for the air circulating in your heating and air conditioning system. It may be near the return vents or it may be part of your inside unit. A clean, functioning air filter keeps dust and dirt, pollen, mold and its spores, lint, hair and animal fur and more out of your living spaces. One that’s dirty and clogged will force your system to work harder, meaning higher bills, and, eventually, a system that’s burnt out long before its time.

Air Filter Ratings

Changing your filters regularly is important, but Not all air filters work the same. Air filters are scored using the MERV ratings. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value and the scale ranges from 1-20. The higher the number, the more it is able to filter.

MERV 1-4: Removes pollen, dust mites, cockroach body parts, sanding dust, textile and carpet fibers.

MERV 5-8: Removes mold spores, cat and dog dander, hair spray and dusting sprays.

MERV 9-12: Removes humidifier dust, lead dust, flour and car emissions.

MERV 13-16: Removes bacteria, cooking oil, sneeze droplets, most smoke and insecticide sprays.

MERV 16-20: Removes viruses and all smoke.

Types of Filter Materials

Just like there are different ratings, air filters are made from many kinds of materials.

Fiberglass: These are the most affordable filters made, but they also catch less particulate matter. They work great for protecting your air conditioning system, but not so great for protecting your respiratory system.

Pleated: These are usually made of polyester fabrics or cotton folds and they’re great at filtering dust and other pollutants. More pleats mean more filtering power.

Washable: These cost more than other types of filters, but it’s a one-time purchase. Instead of replacing them, you remove and clean them, then put them back. You have to carefully read the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions.

Electrostatic: Some electrostatic filters are washable and some aren’t. These filters use an electrostatic charge (think when you rub a balloon over your hair and it makes your hair stand on end) to attract dust like a magnet.

HEPA Filters

You may have seen this abbreviation on all kinds of filters that clean the air. It stands for high efficiency particulate air filter and can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (that’s really, really small). HEPA filters were born in the gas masks of World War II and since, have spread to all kinds of things that need air filtration, including vacuum cleaners, vehicles and more.

Air filter replacement doesn’t have to be a worry for you. As part of the Total Comfort Service Program, we’ll check all your filters and make sure you are good to go. Call our experts at 850-580-4029 for more information about choosing the right filter for your system.

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