The Complete Guide to Home Air Filters for HVAC Systems
So you've decided to get serious about air quality in your home. You've heard a lot about air filters, and it's time to do some research. But where should you start? Let’s look at the different types of home air filters for your HVAC system, how they work, and the best practices for maintaining them.
What is an HVAC System?
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. An HVAC system is a collection of components that work together to keep your home comfortable year-round. It includes things like furnaces, air handlers, blowers, compressors, and ductwork. Many systems also include air cleaners or air purifiers that use air filters to help clean the air inside your home.
What Types of Air Filters Are There?
The two most common types of home air filters are disposable fiberglass or pleated filters and reusable electrostatic or washable filters.
Fiberglass and pleated filters are made from fiberglass mesh or pleated paper material that can trap particles like dust and debris that pass through the filter material.
Electrostatic or washable filters are designed with an electrostatic charge that attracts particles like dust, pet dander, and pollen which are then trapped on the filter’s surface as the airflow passes through the filter. Both types of filters can be used in residential HVAC systems, but depending on your needs, one may be better than the other for your home’s specific needs.
What Size Filter Do I Need?
The size of an air filter is determined by its width, length, and thickness (or depth). It's important to select a filter that fits properly into your HVAC system so it doesn't damage any components or reduce airflow efficiency.
To find out what size filter you need, check your owner’s manual or measure the existing filter in your system if you have one already installed. Most residential systems use standard sizes such as:
20x20x1 inch (20 inches wide by 20 inches long by 1 inch thick)
16x25x1 inch (16 inches wide by 25 inches long by 1 inch thick)
14x30x1 inch (14 inches wide by 30 inches long by 1 inch thick)
How Often Should I Change My Filter?
When changing your home's air filter, it all depends on how many airborne contaminants there are in your home and what type of filter you're using - disposable, reusable, or washable.
Generally, disposable fiberglass and pleated filters should be replaced every three months. Reusable/washable electrostatic ones can last up to 12 months before needing cleaning or replacement, depending on their condition. However, if you have pets or live in an area with high levels of pollutants, then you may need to change them out more frequently than those in the average home.
How Do I Install My Air Filter?
Installing an air filter is relatively straightforward, but there are still a few important steps to follow when installing one in an existing HVAC system.
First, ensure that the new filter is the same size as the old one. Otherwise, it won't fit correctly into place, which could cause damage to sensitive components within the system over time.
Once you've verified that they are both the same size, simply slide out the old one, insert the new one, close up any access panels, turn on power back up, adjust the thermostat setting accordingly (if needed).
Finally, take a few minutes to double-check everything before leaving.