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Does It Matter What AC Filter You Use?

ac filter
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The AC filter is an important part of your HVAC unit, without it dust, debris, pet dander, and pollen will accumulate inside the unit and lead to performance issues. Installing a filter and keeping it clean will prevent your unit from overworking and possibly breaking.

Understanding the importance of using an AC filter also includes understanding the way air filters are rated on a scale based on their efficiency, the different types of air conditioning filters that are available, and why it is essential to choose the right one for your unit.

AC Filter Efficiency Ratings

Air filters are classified depending on their minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV rating). MERV ratings go from levels 1 to 16. Air filters that have a MERV rating of 16 are the most efficient filters. The MERV ratings are broken down into five ranges:

  • MERV 1-4: Common basic filters
  • MERV 5-8: Widely used in homes; usually made of pleated cloth or paper
  • MERV 9-12: High quality; can filter out particles 1 micron or larger
  • MERV 13-16: Best-quality standard filters; can filter out particles 0.3 microns or larger
  • MERV 17+: Very effective, but thick and dense and can often cause your HVAC to work harder and may cause damage to the unit


Types of AC Filters

In addition to an air conditioner filter’s MERV rating, you will also need to pay attention to the different types of filters as you shop for a new one. There are four main types of AC filters to choose from.

1) HEPA Filters​​​​​​

HEPA filters are the most effective filters available. They have a MERV rating of 17-20 and they can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns and filter out 99.97% of airborne particles.

These types of filters are most commonly used in hospitals and other places where the air needs to be especially clean. A HEPA filter is not suitable for your home’s HVAC system because of its large size and the amount of airflow it will block.

But if you want a HEPA filter in your home, it can be done. You will need to hire an HVAC contractor to make the necessary modifications to your current system so it will be compatible with a HEPA filter.

2) Reusable Filters​​​​​​

Reusable filters can be washed and put back into your air conditioner once you have cleaned them. These AC filters have a MERV rating of 1-4. It is important to note that reusable air conditioner filters are more likely to grow mold and mildew than other types of filters.

3) Flat-Paneled Fiberglass Filters​​​​​​

Flat-paneled fiberglass filters are disposable, and they have a metal-reinforcing grate. Due to their low MERV rating, these filters are not ideal for purifying the air inside your home, but they will keep particles out of your air conditioner.

4) Pleated Media Filters​​​​​​

Pleated media filters are disposable and most of them have a MERV rating of 5-13, but there are also high-efficiency versions that have a MERV rating of 14-16. Pleated media filters are designed with a larger surface area than other types of filters, giving them the advantage of improved filtration efficiency.

Choosing The Right AC Filter​​​​​​

The AC filter you choose will depend on the size of your air conditioning unit and the level of filtration you need. ​​​​​​

Reusable air filters tend to be more expensive than disposable ones, but you won’t need to buy new filters as often because they can be cleaned

Indoor air may be unhealthier than outdoor air if you do not replace or clean your AC filter regularly. It is recommended that you should replace or clean your AC filter every month. ​​​​​​

Choosing The Right Company For The Job​​​​​​

Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric is based in Coral Springs and has been servicing South Florida since 1983. We offer a range of top-quality HVAC services to cater to your every air conditioning need.

We also offer plumbing and electrical services and are available seven days a week. Give us a call today at 1-800-475-1504 to schedule your next AC tune-ups and maintenance.


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