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One of the easiest ways to maintain the air quality in your home is by regularly replacing the filter in your HVAC system. HVAC filters help clean and filter the air that circulates throughout your home, removing dust, debris and other potential allergens. They also help to protect your heating and air system from damage, so it’s important to make sure that you regularly change your unit’s air filter regularly. Most homeowners realize the value of having a clean filter and know that they should change the filter regularly, but with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know just what type of filter you need. Below are a few tips to follow when trying to select a new filter for your home.

Fiberglass Filters – these filters will cost around two dollars in most stores and are basically flat panels designed to block large particles from clogging your system. They’re able to do this very effectively but do little to improve the indoor air quality of your home. They typically have a MERV rating of 1-4 and could be releasing dirt and dust particles into the air if they’re not changed monthly. A MERV rating is a numerical value and ranges from 1 (low efficiency) to 16 (high efficiency) and indicates how well a filter traps dirt and dust.

Pleated Filters – these will normally cost around ten dollars. They’re made from a polyester or cotton paper and tend to do a better job than fiberglass filters at trapping dust and other particles. They have an average MERV rating of 8-13 and can even be useful at removing smaller particles like spores and dust. Pleated filters should be checked at least every three months in order to avoid overworking your heating and air system.

Disposable Electrostatic Filters – these are known to cost around twenty dollars. They work even more efficiently than regular pleated filters since they contain self-charging electrostatic fibers that work to magnetically trap small particles. They typically have a MERV rating of around 10 or higher.

High-Efficiency Filters – these cost around twenty-five dollars and are useful for trapping finer particles like microscopic dust and pollen smoke. These have an average MERV rating of around 14-16 (remember 16 is the highest possible rating in the system), high-efficiency filters capture 99 percent of airborne impurities, but they will require you to run your air conditioner fan full-time in order to experience their maximum benefit.

One thing to watch out for is reducing the air flow of your HVAC system by using a filter with a higher MERV rating than what the system is designed to handle. For this reason, it’s best not to switch to a high-efficiency filter without first talking to an HVAC professional first.

If you’d like to know more about which filter is right for your system and whether or not to consider purchasing a high-efficiency filter, contact our offices in San Jose, CA. We specialize in HVAC maintenance and can provide information about the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of filters and the cost associated with each. Contact us today and let us know how we can help you.