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    Choosing the Right Filter for Your HVAC Unit


  • Choosing the Right Filter for Your HVAC Unit

    March 9, 2018

    Your HVAC unit is one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll have, and you want to do everything you can to maximize its performance and, in turn, improve your comfort level at home. The HVAC unit controls indoor air quality, temperature and the air conditioning; there are a lot of things to mentally check the boxes for when maintaining your home, and all of them can get overwhelming, but keeping your HVAC unit’s filter up-to-date is critical to ensuring it won’t fail when you need it most.

    Take a quick stroll through your local hardware store, and you’ll see just how many filters are available. It’s a lot, right? Well, fear no more. The professionals at Mainstream Electric, Heating and Plumbing have provided a quick guide to help you figure out just which filter you need for your HVAC unit. We’re always available to help, too, so give us a call if you’d rather let the experts take care of it.

    Wading through the types of filters

    Seems simple, doesn’t it? Go to the store, pick up a filter, pop it in when you get home, and you’re done. At least, that’s the plan until you have to pick from what seems like a million different varieties. Here’s a primer on what types of filters you’ll likely encounter when you start browsing the aisles (or the listings online, if that’s more your speed).

    First things first: you’ve got to find out the measurements of your HVAC filter. Luckily, all you need to do is check the dimensions printed on your current filter and get the same one. If, for some reason, it’s not there, you’ll have to whip out the tape measure.

    • Pleats – Yes or No?
      • HVAC filters are generally divided into a handful of categories, one of which is pleated and non-pleated varieties. Pleated HVAC filters are sturdier and contain more surface area to trap more air particles, but that comes at a higher cost, unsurprisingly. Non-pleated versions, on the other hand, are cheaper but come with the trade-off of catching fewer air particles.
    • Disposable or Permanent?
      • If you’d rather skirt the issue of paying for a new filter every time it needs changing, the option to buy a permanent electrostatic HVAC filter is out there, too. Instead of chunking it in the garbage every month, you just remove it from the frame, run it through the washer and pop it back in the furnace. And it doesn’t even have to be monthly – you can wash it as frequently as you’d like, so someone in your house suffering from allergies can get clean air all the time.
    • Mind the MERV
      • When combing through the types of HVAC filters, the thing you’ll need to be on the lookout for is a filter’s MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating is a catch-all way of determining how efficient a filter is at removing certain particles from the air.
      • It runs on a scale from 1-20, but the most common HVAC filters aren’t going to go higher than 12. The higher the MERV rating, the better quality you’re going to get. So while an HVAC filter with a MERV rating of 3 is going to be cheap and catch most pollen and carpet fiber particles, it’s not going to prevent the finer molecules from passing through like a filter with a MERV rating of 10 would.

    With these guidelines in mind, your search for the right HVAC filter hopefully just got simpler and stress-free. For the other, more daunting parts of HVAC unit maintenance, you’ll want to let the professionals handle it. Give Mainstream Electric, Heating and Plumbing a call at 509-927-9277 for the best service in the Greater Spokane area and North Idaho!


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