by Ben Wanner of Pro Service Mechanical
There are a lot of filter products on the market for your home's comfort system. It can be confusing to know which one you need. We will discuss some advantages and disadvantages of the different types of filters for your home comfort system.
Let us first discuss the most common types of filters.
Standard Fiberglass FIlters
This type of filter is very basic. The main purpose of this filter is to protect the fan, coil and other components from larger particles that could clog up and possibly damage the equipment. This type of filter is very inexpensive, unfortunately it will not improve your indoor air quality very much.
Electronic Air Filters
This type of filter has been around for a while in one form or another. Some older units may be remembered for the "snapping" sound they would make. Electronic filters have seen a lot of improvements in recent time. Some of these systems can filter out particles in the air as small a .3 micron. Many of these systems may also have a UV light that removes germs and bacteria from the air. Some may also have carbon coated filters that can remove odours and chemical vapours. Always look for electronic filters that do not produce ozone.
Pleated filters are the most common type of filter used today. They are made of paper and polyester usually. They come in all standard sizes and depths of 1", 2", 4" and 5". These filters can vary greatly in efficiency and quality. They are also more restrictive than fiberglass filters so the pleating increases the surface area of the filter. This helps it to maintain air flow while maintaining its efficiency in most cases.
MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value)
The MERV rating will be visible on most filters. Some retailers may have their own rating system, however we suggest obtaining the actual MERV rating of the product. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter will be in removing particles and other air contaminants.
Common MERV ratings for different filter types
- Standard Fiberglass Filter (approximately MERV 2)
- Pleated Filter (MERV 8 to 16)
- Electronic Air Filters (up to MERV 16)
This chart from filterbuy.com shows us what all these MERV ratings are capable of removing from the air. We can see on the high side that MERV ratings of 9 and over can trap particles such as bacteria and smoke. Some of these higher ratings are also suitable for hospital laboratories and surgery rooms.
Things To Know Before You Buy
Most people change the filter on their equipment every 3 months. Pleated filters may require changes more often than 3 months depending on the situation. You may want to keep this in mind when buying pleated filters as they cost more and you may also use more. We normally recommend if you are switching to pleated filters, a 1" depth may not be sufficient for air flow, so move up to at least a 2" depth. This will greatly increase the surface area and airflow of the filter. This may require having a new filter slide or box installed. Make sure to change them regularly or it will increase operating costs and can cause premature wear and failure to vital components of your comfort system.
If you plan to get a furnace filter with a MERV rating higher than 8, I would suggest contacting your HVAC specialist first to ensure you will still have the proper airflow for your system.
High efficiency filtration systems are a great addition to your comfort system and can be essential if the occupants of the home have allergies or compromised immune systems. If you need help finding a product that works with your system and gives you the indoor air quality you need, then contact the pros at Pro Service
If you have any other questions feel free to give us a call at (306) 230-2442
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