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A Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Air Filter

Most people don’t pay nearly enough attention to the air filter in their heater and air conditioner. You should be changing your filter at least a couple times per year, and some homes need to change their filter even more often than that. However the filter you choose to replace your current one is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly as choosing the wrong one could have some pretty disastrous consequences in some cases. Here are things you need to keep in mind when selecting the proper replacement air filter.

Filter Effectiveness vs. System Efficiency

Air filters are designed to allow air to pass through while simultaneously restricting and stopping dust, dirt, and other contaminants from passing through. However, that doesn’t mean the air will pass through your filter with ease. Especially as your filter starts to grow dirty, your filter will restrict airflow that passes through it, which causes your system to run less efficiently. So you have to make an important decision based on a balance between filter effectiveness and system efficiency.

A filter that’s lower-rated will allow more air to pass through, but also won’t be nearly as effective at removing dust and debris from the air around you. Your air conditioner will allow more airborne debris to filter throughout your home, and that could lead to problems if anyone in your home is asthmatic or allergy-sensitive. A higher-rated air filter is designed to remove more dust and debris from the air, meaning your indoor air quality will increase. However, as a trade-off your air conditioner won’t work as efficiently.

What Can Your System Handle?

There’s another thing you need to consider when choosing an air filter: what can your air conditioner handle? A filter that’s rated too high will place a lot of strain on your air conditioner itself. Not having enough air pass through the system could lead to your coils freezing over, your blower motor wearing out due to the excess strain, and your entire system eventually breaking down. Believe it or not, most standard home air conditioners can’t handle the extra resistance of a HEPA or highly-rated air filter in their system. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for what air filter rating they advised and adjust slightly based on that recommendation and your personal needs.

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