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Clearing the air

Clearing the air

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Your home heating and cooling system is a workhorse, keeping you refreshed in the summer and snug in the winter. It’s no wonder you and your family depend on it all year round. Your HVAC system does its part in keeping you comfortable, so it’s only right that you reciprocate by making sure that you do what’s needed to keep it running at peak efficiency. Taking the time to make sure you are using the right furnace filter will pay big dividends – you’ll not only help your system work better and longer, you’ll enjoy the benefits of cleaner, fresher air in your home.


Filters remove dust and debris from the air as it passes through your HVAC system. Trapping these particles in a filter helps to keep them from clogging your furnace, protecting the internal components of your system so it can run more efficiently and last longer. Filtering the air also helps to reduce the amount of allergens in your home’s atmosphere.


Fiberglass. Made from spun fiberglass, these thin, flat-panel filters are the most basic and economical type available. While they do remove larger particles from the air, they do little to improve the overall air quality of your home, but they will help protect your furnace. Use them if you’re on a tight budget and have no allergy concerns.

Pleated polyester or cotton. A very popular option, pleated filters have the ability to trap more dust and spores from the air. They cost a bit more but are still an economical choice. Since they remove more allergens from the air, they’ll need to be changed more frequently to prevent overtaxing your HVAC system.

Electrostatic. These longer-lasting filters are generally made of paper or cotton that has been treated with an electrostatic charge that attracts and traps dust particles. While they may cost more than some other options, they are very effective at removing allergens from the air, making them good choices for homes with pets, children or smokers. Since they filter at a higher level, they may overtax your system if not changed routinely.

Activated carbon. Sometimes known as charcoal filters, in addition to absorbing dust, pollen and mold spores, these high-efficiency furnace filters help remove household odors and chemicals from the air.


MERV is a system of rating a filter’s air filtration efficiency and stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV ratings range from low (1-4) up to highest efficiency (13-20). At the lower end of the scale are the most basic and economical filters, such as fiberglass. Mid-range numbers correspond to more effective filtering mechanisms that are good for most homes. At the highest end of the spectrum are commercial grade filters that are used in hospitals and manufacturing plants; most home HVAC systems cannot accommodate these filters without modification. While a higher MERV rating might seem the most advantageous, the higher the number, the harder the system will have to work because more particles are being trapped and held by the filter. Most HVAC manufacturers recommend a MERV rating to be used with the system. Be sure to check the rating most compatible with your HVAC unit when choosing a filter.


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