Three Things to Look for in a Good HVAC Air Filter

Preserve your unit and protect your family from indoor air pollution.

air conditioner
A proper filter is key to maintaining your HVAC unit.Pixabay

A heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system can help to keep you comfortable year-round, but regular maintenance is a must to keep it in excellent working order. At the top of the list of essential components is a good filter to improve breathability by catching pollution in your home’s air and preventing debris from entering the unit and damaging it from the inside. First of all, the size of the filter needs to precisely fit the HVAC machine’s requirements. If it’s too small, it won’t keep dirt and dust out of the air vents. You’ll also need to be aware of the MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) of the filter and decide whether you’d prefer it to be pleated or fiberglass. That’s a lot of variables, so let’s explore.

Filtrete BD01-6PK-1E 16x25x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 300, Clean Living Basic Dust, 6-Pack
Each of the objects in this multi-pack option lasts for up to 90 days.Filtrete

When it comes to air filters, size matters—a lot. Many of them have an “actual” size - the length, width and depth determined by a tape measure - and a “nominal” size, which are the “actual” measurements rounded up to the next whole number. You can get the correct dimensions by using the filter already in the system or by measuring the filter slot, which is typically located behind the front panel, above or below the unit or behind the return air grill on the wall, ceiling or utility-closet door.

FilterBuy 16x25x1, Pleated HVAC AC Furnace Air Filter, MERV 8, AFB Silver, 4-Pack
These beverage board frames can withstand high humidity and temperatures.FilterBuy

If you live with smokers, pets or carpeting, you need a filter with a higher MERV rating to effectively trap pollutants in the air. For allergy sufferers, a MERV rating above 8 is recommended. Just make sure your HVAC system can adjust to the reduced airflow resulting from a high MERV rating. If it can’t, it won’t work properly and could sustain permanent damage. Filters with lower MERV ratings are more energy efficient, but they need to be replaced more frequently.

AIRx ALLERGY 16x20x1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter - Made in the USA - Box of 6
It has more pleats than is standard, which increases its particle-capturing capacity and improves energy-saving.AIRx ALLERGY

Fiberglass filters typically have MERV ratings between 1 and 4, and are not the best option if you require exceptional indoor air quality. Pleated filters have moderate to high MERV ratings and can capture smaller particles and allergens. HEPA filters, used in hospitals and medical facilities, have the highest MERV ratings, but most residential HVAC systems aren’t designed to accommodate their dramatically restricted airflow.

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