The air conditioning filter is an essential part of the ac system. In fact, it is what keeps clean not just your system but the air that you breathe as well. Just imagine an air conditioning system that does not have an air conditioning filter. For sure, you will be breathing in pollutants and you know very well how these could affect your health!
How all the other parts of the ac system, such as ductwork and air conditioning refrigerant, perform depends a lot on the filter, thus it is essential that you maintain it well and ensure that it is clean all the time. A dirty filter can cost you money as it requires more energy in order to function properly. It can also shorten the life your air conditioning unit to the point that you will have to buy a new unit a lot sooner than expected.
It is highly recommended that you regularly replace your filter in order to maximize the benefits you can gain from a central ac system. If you are a heavy user of the system, say your unit runs 24/7, changing the filter every two weeks is ideal. Otherwise, you can change the filter every month or every couple of months at most. Some people compromise their health by waiting for the dust to accumulate before doing something.
There are different kinds of filters and how efficiently they work may vary from one brand to the next. Usually, ac filters are 1 ½ to 2 square feet for every ton of capacity for home or commercial property, and they are able to filter particles that are between 3 to 10 microns in size.
Air conditioning filters can be conventional fiberglass disposable, pleated fiberglass disposable, electrostatic, electronic or carbon. Conventional fiberglass disposable filters are available in 1” and 2” sizes. These are commonly seen in home air conditioning units and small industrial and commercial air systems. Filters of this kind have a disposable adhesive coating that traps dust, so there is no need for you to clean your filter. In fact, you are advised against doing this as it may damage the adhesive coating or the underlying mesh work. Conventional fiberglass disposable filters are cheaper, unfortunately, they do not work as effectively as the other types of filter.
Residential and commercial establishments usually use the pleated fiberglass disposable filters which are available in 1” and 2” sizes. The 1-inch sized filters are more densely woven in order to increase its ability in removing dirt. They have a larger surface area than most conventional filters. If you are going to use this for your air conditioning system, it is important that you specify this as a mismatch can result to higher maintenance costs and compromise the overall health of your system. Your air conditioning manufacture knows the kind of pleated filter to use for your unit.
AC Filter Basics
Electrostatic filters come in different designs, in 1” and 2” sizes, and they also differ in performance. They usually are allergy-free, but may require constant cleaning, more maintenance and blower power.
Electronic filters are so called because they link to an electrical power source. They have a pre-filter that collects larger particles. Most of them are wall mounted, and they do not require a lot of maintenance. In fact, you only have to clean them every six months.
Carbon filters have carbon that controls odor problems. If you have pets at home, using this type of filter can neutralize the odor emitted by your pets.
You can tell if your filter is one of good quality by looking at the MERV ratings alone. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and it measures the efficiency of your ac filter. If your filter has an MERV rating of 12, it means that it is very effective in removing dust particles, pollen, mold and other allergens. On the other hand, if your filter registers a score of only 1, it means that it is not effective at all. 12 is actually the highest score and 1 is the lowest.
For the filter to work, it must be installed properly. The filter must be placed in the direction as indicated by an arrow on the side or face of the filter. Being in the right direction ensures that the air flows in the same proper direction. You must also make sure that the filter is well fitted to the system. You can use a seal to keep unfiltered air from entering your system, and causing damage to it.
If you have a non-conventional filter that has a higher efficiency but cannot fit your system, contact an air conditioning company or contractor to help you with it.