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One of the most common things you’re told about maintaining your home’s HVAC system is to replace the air filter. That seems simple enough until you try to do so and you’re unsure what to buy or how to do so.
Manufacturers do a good job, in most cases, providing you with information to help. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to refer to the owner’s manual for information. Following these recommendations can help ensure your warranty isn’t voided.
Even then, though, you’ll find a wide range of options available to you. How do you know what to buy? Here’s some insight to keep in mind.
Do You Want the Cheap Air Filter Option?
A cheap home air filter can work in a crunch, but it should not be your most sought-after option. These work to prevent a buildup of material on the heating and cooling equipment, but don’t always offer enough protection to minimize buildup in your air ducts.
The cheapest products are generally a fiberglass filter. They do require replacement at least one time every 30 days. They do not remove all levels of debris though – generally only the bigger materials.
Do You Want the Very Best Air Filter Option?
You’ll spend a bit more for a higher quality air filter. The best options will remove more of the particles present in your home, even some of the smallest that can be dangerous to family members, such as pet dander. They also work well to keep your system working at the most efficient level.
There are two types that tend to be ideal. Look for a deep pleated air filter, with pleats of at least four inches, for the best results. You can also invest in electronic air cleaners. These work the same way as a filter, but at a much more powerful level. They do require professional installation, though.
Looking for the Middle-of-the-Road Air Filter Option?
You don’t have to invest in an air cleaner to keep your home’s HVAC system working efficiently. Instead, look for some of the moderately priced air filters on the market. They remove more of the material from the air than your fiberglass filter, but they are not priced nearly as high as deep pleated.
The best option in this area is a one-inch pleated filter. These tend to last longer because they can hold more debris. You can also look into an electrostatic filter. These work a bit differently in that the fibers within them have a charge to them. This helps to attract more of the very small debris floating through your system.
A Few Additional Air Filter Considerations
The type of air filter you buy also depends on what’s important to you. Here are a few tips:
- Do you want to save energy? If so, look for an air filter that is designed to minimize the restriction of airflow.
- Do you have allergies? If there are people in your home with allergies, asthma, or other sensitivities, aim for a higher quality solution. Look for a filter designed to trap mold, pollen, dust, and other contaminants.
- Do you want something that’s easy to manage? If remembering to replace the air filter every month is a problem, choose a filter that has deeper pleats to minimize how often you need to do so. You can also talk to a professional about installing an air purifier to reduce some of the wear and tear on your system and the need to replace your filter often.