Types of Air Filters and How to Choose Them in Arlington, VA

One of the most important components of your home’s HVAC system is the air filter. This simple object, usually made of fiber or fabric and thin cardboard, plays a powerful role in keeping your indoor air safe and healthy. Keep reading to learn about the various types of air filters and how to choose the right one for your home in Arlington, VA.

What Does an HVAC Air Filter Do?

Your HVAC system’s air filter is responsible for trapping and retaining the airborne allergens and other contaminants that make their way inside your home every time a door or window is open. As the air circulates and flows through your HVAC system, these contaminants become trapped as the air passes through the filter.

The filter locks in the contaminants, which leave with the old filter when you install a new one. In this way, the air you breathe in your home remains clean, safe, and pollutant-free.

Types of HVAC Air Filters

There are seven main types of HVAC air filters. Choosing the best filter for your home depends on factors such as the air quality and level of pollution where you live, household members’ health issues such as allergies, respiratory issues or compromised immune systems and whether smokers or pets live with you. Once you’ve considered these factors, you can choose the best air filter for your home.

1. Fiberglass or Spun Glass Air Filters

These filters consist of superfine fibers of spun glass that stay in place via a thin wire grating. They are only effective in removing large pollutants like pollen, carpet fibers and dust.

Fiberglass and spun glass are popular choices due mainly to their low cost. A major downside is that these filters clog easily and require frequent replacement.

2. Electrostatic Air Filters

Electrostatic air filters use paper and cotton fibers. They work like magnets, utilizing the static electricity created by the material fibers to pull and trap airborne contaminants within the filter’s screen. These filters are excellent at trapping smaller pollutant particles, but they are unable to trap larger ones.

3. Pleated Air Filters

Pleated air filters feature cotton or polyester fabric accordioned into folds to increase its overall surface and make it more effective at trapping even the tiniest contaminants. They are slightly more costly than other filters and are available in both disposable and reusable types. The drawback to pleated filters is that while they are very effective at trapping pollutants of all kinds, they also have the potential to restrict airflow.

4. Washable Air Filters

This type of air filter is available in both pleated and flat panel styles, both of which are reusable. They resemble ultra-lightweight screens and are environmentally friendly due to their reusable design. The fact that they are reusable is a big plus; however, they are only effective at removing dust-like pollutants from the air.

5. UV Lights

UV light filters are a different, more advanced type that uses shortwave UV light to kill viruses, germs and bacteria. UV light filters are also ineffective at removing primary home contaminants like dust and smoke from the air. They do not replace the regular filters in the air handler but are often added to shine on the evaporator’s coils.

6. Media Air Filters

Media filters feature pleats made from a paper-like material arranged inside a metal structure. This pleated material measures an astounding 75 square feet when unfolded, making this filter more than seven times more powerful than other types of standard-designed air filters. A single media air filter can last as long as two years, with its only drawback being that it requires professional installation.

7. HEPA Air Filters

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are among the most efficient of all HVAC filters. They remove as much as 99.97% of contaminants and allergens from indoor air.

The less popular points of HEPA filters are that they are more expensive than other filters and that they do not remove gas fumes or smoke from the air. Although these filters are effective in settings like hospitals and other medical facilities, home HVAC systems are not able to accommodate them.

Choosing the Right Air Filter

Take the time to consider your household’s needs when choosing the best HVAC air filter. You want to be sure that the indoor air quality in your home is as clean and safe as possible to ensure everyone’s comfort and good health. For professional HVAC maintenance or help with choosing and installing your air filter in Arlington, VA, call us at Vernon Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.

Image provided by iStock

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