Myth: High Efficiency Air Filters are Better

Myth High Efficiency Air Filters are Better

These days, the buzz accompanying the purchase of residential heating and air conditioning systems is indoor air quality. Much has been made about how indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air and how unhealthy interior air can be detrimental to your health. Many contractors recommend that you use high efficiency air filters and change them regularly to maintain good air quality inside your home.

What’s the Purpose of an Air Filter?

The primary purpose of an air filter inside your HVAC system is to protect the equipment itself, not clean the interior air as you may believe them to. Although virtually all industry professionals recommend that you should change filters regularly, not everyone agrees what type is best. Some recommend inexpensive fiberglass filters that you can easily replace, but many smaller particles easily pass through fiberglass. Others indicate that high efficiency filters are the best. The latter, however, may actually slow airflow across the heat exchanger that can ultimately reduce efficiency, raise energy bills and possibly cause furnaces to overheat, thus damaging the system. Similar problems can occur in central air conditioning units with high efficiency filters resulting in frozen condenser coils.

Furnace filters actually do little to reduce the number of harmful particles in the air. Part of the reason is because neither furnaces nor air conditioners run continually throughout the year. The second reason is that these particles tend to congregate in the air where there is human activity, not necessarily near registers or ductwork that leads to the air filter.

Consider using permanent, washable electrostatic air filters for your HVAC system. These filters may be trimmed to fit most filter cabinets and may be reused for 5 to 10 years before they need replacement. Simply rinse the electrostatic filters once a month and dry thoroughly prior to re-installation. Carbon for odor removal may be a component in some electrostatic filters to aid in odor removal.

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