The 4 Types of HVAC Air Filters

HVAC air filter

What Are HVAC Filters?

HVAC filters are an essential component of your HVAC system. Filters have a couple of important jobs. First, they are are responsible for removing any impurities, such as pollen, pet dander, mold, mildew, and dust, from your indoor air. In addition to improving indoor air quality, HVAC filters also have a role to play in the efficiency of your HVAC system. The filters keep large debris and particles from entering into the inner workings of your system, where they could potentially cause damage.

Many people are surprised to learn that they need to replace these filters regularly. In fact, many common HVAC repair issues are the direct result of not changing the air filter. When the filter becomes dirty and clogged, it can hinder the flow of conditioned air through your home, resulting in warm air coming from your return vents when the air conditioning system is on, or cold air when your heating system is on. Dirty air filters are also quite harmful to the efficiency of your HVAC system, causing it to consume more energy to run while failing to provide you with the output you desire. Finally, dirty air filters can also be the reason for your home seeming more dusty than usual!

Types of HVAC Filters to Consider

There is no one type of HVAC filter—in fact, there are several different kinds to choose from depending on your budget, the size of your vents, and the level of filtration you desire. Allergy sufferers, for example, may wish to purchase air filters specifically designed to reduce allergens. If you have pets, you probably don't want to buy the cheapest possible filter option and instead opt for something good at trapping pet dander. No matter what your situation, make sure to pay attention to something called MERV, or the air filter’s "minimum efficiency reporting value". This rating measures how effectively the filter prevents contaminants from passing through the filter and into your indoor air.

Not sure what you need? Here are four types of HVAC filters you may want to look into:

Flat-Paneled Fiberglass Filters

When it comes to MERV ratings, this disposable type of HVAC filter is at the lowest end, meaning it’s not particularly effective at improving your indoor air quality despite being able to trap dust and debris. However, due to its affordability, it’s a popular HVAC air filter choice.

Pleated Media Filter

The pleated media filter has a MERV rating between 5 and 13, meaning it can trap mold spores and pet dander. The pleats are designed to increase the filter’s surface area and increase its efficiency. It’s air filtration efficiency is still quite low, however, though it does provide less airflow resistance and can suppress fan noise.

HEPA Filter

HVAC replacement companies often recommend HEPA filters since they can provide the highest protection level when it comes to airborne particles. This type of filter is capable of capturing small microns, and also has a MERV rating between 17 and 20, meaning it can trap tobacco smoke and bacteria. However, installing it is no easy feat, as modifications from a contractor will likely be required for it to work with your HVAC system.

Reusable Air Filters

Reusable air filters can be washed for continued use, making a complete replacement unnecessary. However, they do have a low MERV rating (between 1 and 4) and can also attract mold and mildew growth if installed before completely dry.

Still not sure what type of HVAC filter you should buy? Need help changing your filters? For honest advice and HVAC filter replacement in Solano County or Contra Costa County, give us a call at (707) 247-2887.