Filters are imperative to an HVAC system. They free up the air from dust, mites, allergens, and bacteria commonly found in the household surrounding before circulating the air back into the atmosphere.

After installing a heating and cooling system at your place, you need to deal with the furnace and air filters. Check if you are looking for expert technicians to install and repair your air and furnace filters in Northern Virginia and Washington DC.

Is there any difference between the two filters?

Let us understand the importance of each filter and find out if they have the same or different functions in an HVAC system.

Your furnace and air conditioner use the same filter performing the same functions. Therefore, you may not need to buy separate filters for each system. However, some houses may have different heating and cooling systems with shared ductwork.

The installation point of the filter largely depends on how the system is configured. A traditional HVAC system usually has an air filter between the HVAC unit and the return air duct. However, this may change depending on where your device is installed.

For example, if your HVAC unit is in an attic, your filter can be installed in the air outlet instead of the return air duct. Ask your HVAC technician how your system is set up so you can understand where the filter is installed.

If you have a heat pump at home, even then, your air and furnace filters will be the same because a heat pump model uses the same compressor and air handler.

Although a furnace can run without a filter, it will damage the machine. Without an air filter, a lot of dust and debris will enter the main components of your heating system and damage coils, blower motors, and more. The furnace will not operate efficiently, leading to a surge in your heating bill. Therefore, you must use an air filter for your furnace.

Irrespective of the HVAC system or heat pump at your home, it is crucial to clean and replace your furnace/air filter to continuously circulate fresh and clean air in the house.

How to change your HVAC filter?

Ideally, you should check your furnace and air filters every month. If you have a high-efficiency furnace filter, check and replace the filter after every three months. During the months of heavy use, it is best to inspect your filters regularly and replace them every month. If you are not sure about how to change a furnace filter, here are some tips.

  1. Turn off the furnace or HVAC system.
  2. Remove the filter by sliding it out of the slot.
  3. Replace the filter by sliding a new, clean filter into the slot. If you have a reusable air filter, clean it, let it dry, and slide it back in.

Once finished, turn the system back on.

Disposable air filters cannot be cleaned and should be discarded after use. However, reusable air filters can and should be cleaned regularly. Use a microfiber cloth to start removing accumulated dust and dirt. You can also use a damp cloth to clean the filter. Make sure the filter is completely dry before installation to avoid mildew.

What types of HVAC filters are available?

There are air filters with different specifications, technology, and functionality. However, they all perform the task of cleaning the air before circulating it into the environment.

Fiberglass air filters

These are disposable air filters with the lowest straining capacity. Hence, the most affordable. They protect your HVAC system but fail to screen dust and allergens from the air. Using this filter can make you prone to respiratory issues.

Pleated filters

These filters are made of polyester or cotton fabrics and have pleats to screen dust particles. More pleats mean higher protection.

Washable air filters

These filters are a little more expensive than the disposable ones, but they are reusable. You can clean and use them multiple times. Hence, save money in the long run. Make sure to wash the filters regularly and dry them before fixing them back to avoid any mold growth.

Electrostatic air filters

These filters use electrostatic magnets to attract dirt and airborne particles and stop them from circulating in the surrounding. Some of these filters are washable, and some are not. Always consult an HVAC expert before choosing the right kind of filter for your heating and cooling system.

HEPA filters

If you or someone in your family is allergic to dust particles and sensitive to respiratory issues, install a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter(HEPA). The US Department of Energy recommends these filters because of their screening efficiency of up to 99.97%.

UV Filters

Although not very effective in screening dust and pollutants, these filters use ultraviolet rays to combat viruses and other microorganisms that can affect your health.

Which filter should you buy?

Depending on the efficiency, cost, health benefits, and maintenance, you can buy any of these filters mentioned above. However, before you set out to buy an HVAC filter, check the size of your current filter.

Turn off the system and remove the current air filter. Read the size written under the filter. That’s the size you need to buy for the new filter.

In terms of efficiency, the filters are numbered from 1 to 16. It is the minimum recorded filter efficiency or MERV. It indicates the filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm). The lower the number, the fewer particles the filter can capture. Pick at least a MERV 4 filter for efficiency and safety.

Many homeowners choose MERV 7 or MERV 8 filters because they offer excellent value for money in terms of efficiency and price. But if you are allergic, you should install MERV 11 or MERV 12 to filter potential allergens in your home. HEPA filters can remove dust particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm).

Your HVAC technician can assist you in picking the best filter as per your health condition, preference, and budget.