How to Choose a “Long-Life” Air Filter
Choosing the right air filter for your home isn’t always as simple or straightforward as you might think. There are many things you need to consider:
- What type of filter can your heating and air conditioning system handle?
- What level of filtration do you need
- How efficient do you want your air conditioner to be?
- How much do you want to spend on air filters?
- How often do you want to replace your air filter?
If you’re like most homeowners, the answer to the last questions is probably “as little as possible.” We get it: changing your air filter regularly is a tedious and sometimes dirty chore that many homeowners would simply rather forget about for several months without worry. Fortunately, there’s a way to do that: purchasing an air filter that’s conducive to a much longer lifespan. These “long-life” filters often don’t cost a lot more than a traditional filter, and can help you still maintain a clean and efficient system for several extra months before they need replacement.
Here are a few features found in these long-life air filters.
Have you ever seen an air conditioner and wonder why it’s folded in a zig-zag formation, making it look kind of like a scrunched-up accordion? The reason for this is it allows a much larger filtration area to fit into a smaller package. This is key because exposed surface area is one of the largest influences on how much an air filter can strain at any given time as well as how long it will last. Generally, more folds mean your air filter can strain more air at a time, allowing your system to run more efficiently while also removing more dirt. All this means you’ll get better results than a traditional flat filter and not have to worry about changing it out nearly as often. The more folds you can get, the better your filter will be.
Flat filters are generally extremely thin. However, a folded air filter has the ability to have an added dimension: depth. A filter that’s flat generally won’t be thicker than a quarter to a half of an inch, depending on the material that it’s constructed from. However, a folded filter has the ability to be up to several inches thick, depending on how wide the folds are. A thicker air filter also exposes more surface area, which much like the folds, also makes your filter more efficient and longer-lasting. Keep in mind that some systems are limited in how thick of an air filter they can have, but a folded filter that makes the most of the depth that it can will generally give you a longer useable life than an unfolded filter.
Every air filter is assigned a MERV rating that indicates how effective it is at removing pollutants from your air. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter. However, filters with higher MERV ratings also tend to get dirty quicker because of their ability to remove so many extra particles. This means you’ll have to carefully consider what your filtration needs are. If someone in your home is constantly dealing with asthma attacks or severe allergies, you may need a higher-rated filter in order for them to stay healthy. If you don’t have this issue and have only very minimal contributors to in-home air pollution, then you can probably get away with a lower-rated filter as it won’t fill up with contaminants as fast.
Lower-rated filters also generally let air pass through easier, which means they make your air conditioner and heater more efficient. Be sure to read up on the specs for your system before buying to make sure you choose one that fits within the effective operating guidelines.
Learn more about solving your indoor air quality problems by calling the Los Angeles heating and air service experts by calling JW Plumbing, Heating and Air at (888) 523-7445 today!