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Air filters are a core element of each HVAC system. The better the air filter in your HVAC, the higher the air quality you breathe each day. Choosing the right air filter is crucial because if you don’t, your furnace or air conditioner may fill the air inside your home with dust particles, which could be a health risk.

When searching for the right air filter for your HVAC unit, it’s essential to do the proper research. Recommendations from friends and family, online user reviews, and assistance from professional HVAC contractors can be great places to start your search. Be sure, however, that the air filter you decide on can fit your specific furnace or air conditioner, as each make and model will vary.

Though the factors to consider when choosing the air filter for your HVAC system are relatively few, the choice is vital. If this is your first time purchasing an air filter, or if HVAC terminology is simply not your forte, don’t worry. Rock Valley Services, Evansville’s leading HVAC contractor, has you covered with a few simple tips to guide you in selecting the perfect air filter for your system.

Tip #1: Know Which Filters Fit Your System

The first step is to find out which air filters can fit your HVAC unit. The owner’s manual or manufacturer’s guide with your HVAC system will provide a recommended size and type of filter to yield the best results. Ensuring that you find a fitting air filter is vital as it will lead to better and safer indoor air quality while boosting energy efficiency.

If you’ve misplaced the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s guide, you’ll have to measure the dimensions of your current air filter to know which filters are compatible. Simply remove the existing air filter from your air conditioning or heating unit and measure it. As a guideline, 20 inches for the length and 25 inches for the height is a standard air conditioner or furnace filter size.

Tip #2: Understand the MERV Rating

The HVAC industry uses Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, ratings to measure the effectiveness of different air filters. MERV ratings assess how well air filters can capture and filter dust and other particles from the air. The higher the MERV rating, the more ability the air filter has to capture dust particles and ensure higher air quality inside your home.

Air filters with higher MERV ratings will generally be more expensive, as they are much better at their job. The extra cost, however, tends to even out. If you buy a cheaper air filter with a low MERV rating, you’ll have to replace it much sooner, as it will quickly fail to filter unhealthy airborne particles.

Occasionally, companies that make air filters will use their own rating systems rather than the MERV system. If you buy from a company that does so, know that the higher number rating usually corresponds to higher quality filtration.

Tip #3: Select a Filter Made of the Right Material

You have a couple of different options for the different types of filters and filter materials. A standard and inexpensive option is a fiberglass filter. Fiberglass air filters are generally an inch thick and, as a relatively cheap and thin option, are less proficient at collecting airborne dust particles. If you opt for a fiberglass air filter, you’ll probably need to replace it every month.

Pleated filters are a step up from the fiberglass option. Pleated filters are often sold in the 4-inch thick variety, making them more durable and better at preventing dust particles from entering the air you breathe. Though pleated filters will cost more upfront than fiberglass filters, the higher quality ones can last up to a year.

An alternative route is to opt for a washable air filter. Washable air filters, commonly made of polypropylene media, will usually be the most expensive option but can last years and have a lower environmental impact. While fiberglass and pleated filters are suitable for one-time use and then disposal, washable air filters are reusable with regular cleaning.

Tip #5: Know When It’s Time for a New Filter

Understanding when to dispose of your current air filter and purchase a new one is as important as choosing the right air filter. If you follow the tips above and find the perfect air filter to fit your HVAC system but fail to replace it at the right time, the filter simply won’t operate in its intended fashion. A couple of signs that your current air filter is dirty or clogged and requires replacing include: 

  • Noticeable dust particles in the air: If dust or other airborne particles are visible in the air inside your home, then it’s time for a new air filter. Your air filter can no longer collect and filter the unhealthy particles if they are noticeable, meaning your filter is likely very dirty or clogged.
  • Your home isn’t heating or cooling correctly: When your furnace or air conditioner is struggling to heat or cool your home to the desired temperature, your air filter may need replacing. A dirty or clogged filter can lead to your HVAC system working harder than usual and eventually malfunctioning.
  • High energy bills: Working extra hard to heat and cool your home means your HVAC system uses more energy. When your air filters are dirty or clogged, you’ll notice unusually high energy bills. A new air filter allows your HVAC unit to function correctly and use the lowest possible energy.

The Importance of HVAC Maintenance

You may follow all the tips above to find the perfect air filter, replace it regularly, and still experience heating, cooling, and indoor air quality issues. You likely have HVAC problems aside from your air filter when this is the case. Scheduling HVAC maintenance will allow a professional HVAC technician to examine each moving part of your system and locate the source of the issues.

Even if you are not experiencing problems, it’s always good to have routine tune-ups and maintenance on your HVAC unit. Expert technicians can fix every minor flaw in your furnace and air conditioner. Regular maintenance will ensure a longer lifespan for your unit, better air quality inside your home, and a more energy-efficient system with fewer energy costs.

Professional HVAC Services in Evansville, WI

Hopefully, these five tips will guide you in choosing the right air filter for your HVAC system. Aside from these tips, it’s essential to research each potential air filter before deciding if it’s the perfect fit. Resources such as customer reviews can assist you in understanding the pros and cons of the filter you’re considering purchasing. Given how vital choosing the right filter is to ensure your and your family’s peace and comfort, it’s wise to take your time and make the best choice.

 The sweltering summer months are approaching, and there’s no better time to make sure your air conditioner can function correctly and keep you cool. For extra help with your air filter search and to learn more tips to prepare for the summer season, contact the HVAC experts at Rock Valley Services. Our skills and experience allow us to keep you and your family cool and comfortable in your home throughout the summer heat.

Rock Valley Services is your trusted HVAC company for residents of Evansville and all of southern Wisconsin. We strive to ensure your comfort in all conditions throughout the year. Call us today at 608-247-4949 or visit us online to get a quote or schedule HVAC maintenance and repair.

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