Air Filter Buying Guide

Air Filter Buying Guide

Posted by
Ed Miller on Wed, Nov 13, 2013



Changing air filters only when a dusty fuzz cakes air conditioning vents means you’ve waited far too long for a filter change. When an overloaded filter can’t sift particulates and pollutants out of the air in a home or apartment, the lungs of people and pets begin to suffer. Add respiratory problems to the mix, and you may end up with a critical problem that can seriously affect the health of family members or friends. Periodic inspection and replacement of air filters should be part of routine air conditioning maintenance in Jacksonville air conditioners that see a lot of duty during hot, steamy summer months. Peak air conditioner performance and optimal respiratory health for those living in your home are the immediate benefits.

A wall or shelf of assorted air conditioner replacement filters can boggle the mind, but identifying your filtration needs narrows your choices considerably. MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) ratings indicate what types of contaminants are filtered from circulating air. The higher the number on a MERV rating, the more contaminants purified from the air and, therefore, the better the filter. Some filters may also come with a “good, better, best, premium” quality rating scale. Educate yourself on the various filters available and the types of contaminants they screen before you buy. Which of the following particles or contaminants concerns you most?

  • dust mites
  • lint
  • household dust
  • pet dander
  • pollen
  • mold spores
  • bacteria
  • microscopic allergens
  • virus-carrying particles
  • odor-carrying particles
  • smog
  • smoke
  • carpet or textile fibers

Filter Types

Only certain types of higher-rated filters are able to screen the smallest of airborne particles. Filters may be rigid or flexible, washable or disposable. The size and thickness of a filter depends on your air conditioner’s specifications. It’s best to peruse your AC system’s owner’s manual to find the exact filter size your air conditioner requires or check with professionals who specialize in air conditioning maintenance in Jacksonville. Take a look at the various mechanical air filters available.

  • High-efficiency electrostatic filters are comprised of charged fibers that can capture more particles, both large (dust, pet dander) and small (odor- or virus-carrying particles). They can be either reusable or disposable, depending on the filter. Electrostatic filters remove allergens from circulating air and may be the best choice for homes with allergy-sensitive individuals.
  • Pleated filters are disposable and, depending on the number of pleats per foot (the more pleats the better), their larger surface area, increased because of the pleating, can remove a greater number of airborne particles.
  • Washable, reusable filters serve to protect your furnace’s motor and typically only trap larger particles, such as pet dander, household dust and dust mites. The upside is that these filters don’t need replacing as often as other filters, but do require periodic vacuuming or washing.
  • Polyester or Fiberglass filters are the least expensive filters available and capture only large particles, such as lint, dust or pet dander.

Flimsy frames on air conditioning filters can buckle and warp from constant movement of circulating air, so make sure filter frames are strong and durable. High-efficiency air filters may cost more in the short-run, but tend to be more cost-efficient in the long-run.

The Importance of Regular Filter Changes

Most air conditioning systems call for a filter change every 3 months. Certain factors can mean more frequent filter changes, however. Once-a-month filter changes may be required for allergen-sensitive individuals or during seasons when pollen levels are at their highest.  Also, lowest-rated air filters need more frequent changing or washing. Dirty, clogged air filters make air conditioning units work harder to do the jobs they’re designed to do: cool a closed environment. Struggling AC units can fail.

Regular filter changes and general maintenance serve as a safeguard not only for your air conditioner, but also for your respiratory health. The professionals at Snyder Heating and Air Conditioning in the Jacksonville area offer comprehensive maintenance plans for air conditioners and have rightly earned a reputation as “air conditioning experts” in north Florida. Before an easy fix becomes a big repair, contact Snyder Heating and Air Conditioning at (904) 441-8476 .

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