Most of the time, an air filter is just a filter. Hopefully, we remember it often enough to change them on schedule. When thinking about ways to improve the indoor air quality of your home, for your family, and adding to the longevity and efficiency of your HVAC system, going from a normal 1” air filter to a media filter might be a good, even valuable, idea.
What is a Media Filter?
If you want or need to improve the indoor air quality, media filters are an HVAC system’s best defense. Media filters do an exceptional job giving you clean air and are one of the highest quality filters available for homes. They catch all sorts of particles and contaminants in the air, stopping stuff like mold, pollen, dust, dirt, pet dander, smoke and other contaminants.
Media filters are mounted on a return duct line on your home’s HVAC system. They protect against particulates from entering your home through the air system. Media air filters last much longer than a basic 1” air filter along with being more effective in a number of ways.
How Do Media Filters Work?
A media filter is installed on the return air duct of an HVAC system. Air going through the system goes through the filter. The filter removes airborne contaminants and material before it is sent out into your home.
The primary difference in a media filter and a typical air filter in most HVAC systems is its size. Media filters are 4-5 inches thick compared to a 1” filter. This is part of its better output and efficiency.
Different Kinds of Air Filters
There are seven types of filters which are made for home use.
- HEPA filters
- UV light filters
- Electrostatic filters
- Washable filters
- Media filters
- Spun glass filters
- Pleated filters
Each kind of filter has pros and cons. What’s important to you will differ based on your family’s needs and your home. Some people need HVAC system filters that will maintain their home’s air free of irritants and pollutants. Others just need a standard filter to get the job done.
Normally, high-efficiency filters that are cost-effective are best for homes. However you could well have more factors to consider. Homeowners with pets is one simple example. Do you live in a climate where mold is more likely? or have you had mold in the home before? Do you have specific allergic concerns or needs? These are just a few examples.
Filters are rated and categorized by a MERV rating – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This rating number is from ASHRAE – the American Society of Heating and Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. The MERV rating of a filter ranges from 1-16. The range gives you a measurement of the size of pollutants the filter will stop, from 10 microns to as small as 0.3 microns.
Cons with a 1” Filter
A basic air filter is affordable, easy to buy and will do a satisfactory job keeping an HVAC system and your home clean. There are additional issues you might want to consider. Are you still experiencing some of these problems?
- High static pressure
1″ filters come in different MERV ratings. The greater the MERV, the smaller impurities it can remove from the air.
Unfortunately, pleated 1″ filters with a MERV rating over 12 can raise the static pressure in your HVAC system. If the pressure becomes too high, it may hinder airflow. This may lead to uncomfortable conditions in the home and an inefficient – or in time damaged or failed – heating and cooling system.
- Poor filtration
To avoid the static pressure problem, you might use a low-MERV filter. While it might do the job in some categories, it won’t be helping the indoor air quality of your house much. It can be difficult to balance adequate air filtration with good, proper airflow.
- Remembering to change the filters
In most cases with standard 1” filters, you need to wash or change the filters every 1-3 months. This depends on your home environment, your family’s health and comfort needs and how often you’re running the heat or AC. Then, if you’re guilty of not changing the filters as often as you should, what does using 1” filters actually mean?
- No smell control
1″ filters catch particles and contaminants in the air, however they do little or nothing to fight odors or smells.
How Media Filters Are an Upgrade
Media filters provide a higher filtration capability without the disadvantages. Generally, you have a high-MERV level without the poor airflow or static pressure. A media filter is excellent because:
- They are thicker
A media filter simply has a lot more surface area than even a high-MERV 1” filter. 1″ filters don’t have enough area to supply good filtration and good airflow. A media filter’s surface area means you get filtration of bacteria and allergens down to 0.3 microns without the static pressure problems.
- Easy upkeep
To switch filters, which needs to be done only 1-2 times a year, open a door on the side of the box, remove the old filter, put in the new filter, close the door.
- You can upgrade the media filter
A F100 filter has a MERV rating of 11. It’s easy to go to an F200 (MERV 13) or F300 (MERV 14) with the same filter box.
- Odor control
Another option with a media filter is using a carbon-coated filter. This is a great option if you need odor control in your home. A filter with activated carbon absorbs odor. Carbon media filters have a 16 MERV rating. It will filter out mold, bacteria and viruses.
At South End Heating and Air we specialize in HVAC and furnace repair, call us for a free consult. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.