The HVAC, or heating and cooling system, is an essential part of residential and commercial building interiors. Nowadays it’s become standard in new construction and is chiefly responsible for the maintenance of comfortable living spaces. HVAC systems are known to perform several different functions, including drawing warm, stale air out and replacing it with cool, fresh air in a process called ventilation, as well as removing undesirable air contaminants such as dust mites, tobacco smoke, airborne bacteria, pet dander, pollen and carbon dioxide.
An effective HVAC system has nine common components that you should be familiar with, including the air filter, air return, blower, coils, compressor, condenser, ducts, electrical elements and exhaust outlets. However, in this post, an AC troubleshooting system expert is going to focus on the importance of air filters and the role they play in maintaining airflow and good indoor air quality.
The Function of Air Filters
An air filter is commonly made of two materials. It can either be constructed of spun fiberglass or pleated paper or cloth surrounded by a cardboard frame. The basic purpose of an air filter is to clean the air that circulates through your HVAC unit. This is done by trapping air particles and contaminants that may trigger allergies and compromise the health of occupants and the condition of interior belongings. The process of filtration occurs when used air is ushered back into the HVAC unit to be conditioned and distributed again.
Though often overlooked, the air filter of an HVAC unit keeps a steady, healthy airflow inside your home or commercial building. The condition of your air filter significantly influences the status of your indoor comfort and the performance of the entire HVAC system. It also helps prevent the need to call for an emergency AC repair service during the dog days of summer.
Filter Efficiency & MERV Ratings
Not all air filters are created equally. Some models of filters can clean indoor air with higher levels of efficiency than other types of filters. Though higher-grade air filters fall in a more expensive category, they’re also more capable of filtering and removing contaminants from the air inside your home.
Filter efficiency is rated by the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) system. Standard MERV values range from 1 to 16, with higher values indicating better air filter performance. These values also inform customers of how well filters can safeguard indoor air quality and comfort.
- MERV 1-4: The lowest range represents standard air filters that provide a fundamental level of filtration. These filters are generally the most affordable type.
- MERV 6-8: These filters provide better filtration performance and are mostly used in residential homes. According to air conditioning replacement pros, MERV 6-8 filters are often made of pleated paper or cloth to provide a larger surface for catching airborne particles.
- MERV 9-12: These filters are considered mid-range and are of relatively high quality. They can capture miniscule particles that are one micron or larger.
- MERV 13-16: These high-efficiency filters are the highest-grade filters available on the market. They can remove microscopic particles 0.3 microns or larger.
For the most part, low-cost,disposable flat-panel filters are designed to minimize wear and tear — a form of depreciation caused by large inorganic dust particles — on mechanical HVAC components. They’re not necessarily made to address air quality issues experienced by the house occupants.This is where HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters come in. They’re constructed to bridge the gap and take air filtration to a higher efficiency level. In fact, HEPA filters exceed the MERV 16 grade. These air filters can remove 99.97 percent of particles down to a size of 0.3 microns.
Advantages of HEPA Filters
HEPA filters are the standard filtration system in medical settings, such as hospitals and clinics. This is mainly because air filters with higher efficiency remove not only inorganic dust suspended in the air but also microscopic organisms that may cause serious harm. Some examples are airborne viruses, bacteria, dust mites, mold spores and pollen. HEPA utilizes thick, pleated media instead of the flat fiberglass media used in standard types of filters. This is to considerably expand the surface area for filtration as well as the service life of the filters, says an HVAC contractor specializing in AC troubleshooting system services. Better filtration also aids in keeping the interior free of damaging particles all year ’round.
Drawbacks of HEPA Filters
Though a high-efficiency air filter offers an array of advantages, it also come with certain drawbacks. HEPA filters, while very effective, are thick and dense. These qualities can substantially interfere with the airflow process of your HVAC equipment. If the airflow is restricted, the heating and cooling demand on the property will increase, forcing utility bills to skyrocket and potentially causing damage to the whole HVAC system. For this reason,a HEPA filtration system isn’t appropriate for all residential structures.
Before installing an air filter with a high MERV rating, make sure that your heating or cooling equipment can adequately handle it first. An HVAC professional can measure airflow and make an astute recommendation about whether or not your system can accommodate in-duct HEPA filtration.
In-Duct vs. External HEPA Filters
As an alternative, HEPA filtration options for residential spaces include external HEPA filters or whole-house air filters — types of filters that connect to the ductwork through a small bypass loop. The key mechanism of this unit is to draw a certain amount of air out of the main duct, transport it through the assembled HEPA filter and bring the filtered air back to the duct without hampering the airflow. As stated by an AC repair contractor, this procedure filters a percentage of the household airflow to HEPA standards without compromising air volume.
Maintenance of Air Filters
It’s crucial to keep the HVAC filters clean and free of grime since all of the air that cools and heats your home passes through them. Dirty or clogged filters won’t be able to function properly and are likely to be the main source of equipment malfunctions. Even if you purchase HEPA filters, failing to change them regularly will cause your HVAC system to wear out much more quickly. In addition, dusty air filters can eliminate the efficiency of HEPA filters and cause contaminants to accumulate in the ductwork. Once this begins, it will double your usual energy consumption and drive up your monthly energy bills.
Make sure to schedule your seasonal HVAC inspection and maintenance visit to avoid dealing with faulty systems.
Contact Air Products & Services for All of Your Heating & Cooling Needs
If you need help improving the interior of your home and transforming it into an ultramodern, comfortable sanctuary, don’t hesitate to call us. Air Products & Services is one of the leading HVAC companies in Tarzana, CA. You can trust us with your heating and air conditioning replacement, repair and maintenance needs. We have an impressive team of professional technicians who are more than ready to guide you through a smooth, stress-free experience! Call us at (818) 989-2030 or fill out this contact form to set up an appointment.