Your HVAC system is critical to your home’s comfort. Texas often faces extreme heat in the summer and you rely on your HVAC systems to keep your home at an even temperature.

However, although HVAC systems are fundamental to your home, many people do not know much about how they function. For example, do you know what type of HVAC system you own? What about the HVAC filters?

HVAC filters are vital to your HVAC systems’ functionality, and yet they often receive little attention from homeowners. If you want to understand your HVAC system, learning more about your filters is a great place to start!

To that end, we have compiled this guide to the different types of HVAC filters and how they function! Keep reading to learn more.

What Are HVAC Filters?

Before we talk about the types of HVAC filters, let’s first discuss what they do. HVAC filters are essentially air filters for your heating and cooling unit.

When your system is running, it cycles air through your home and spreads cool or warm air evenly. Your filter catches contaminant particles in its frame, preventing those particles from spreading through your house.

However, not all air filters are equal. Different filters vary in their efficiency and are more effective for different systems.

At this point, you may be wondering, “What kind of HVAC filter do I need?” here is a concrete way of measuring different filters’ effectiveness.

This measuring method is the MERV rating, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. These values detail a filter’s capacity for catching particles between 0.3 and 10 microns

MERV ratings come in a range, with higher ratings being more effective and lower ratings being less effective at trapping harmful particles. 

All of this sounds good. After all, who wants contagions and contaminants flying through their indoor air? However, filters can only perform well when they are clean.

Because of this, you must make a habit of regularly cleaning your air filter (or replacing them, depending on the type) so it will function well and keep your air clean.

Otherwise, your filter will not only circulate bad air; it may also cause damage to your entire HVAC system. If you’re wondering how often to change air filters, a good rule of thumb is to do so once a month. 

So, to keep your air as clean as possible, you must do two things. First, you must select the right air filter for your home. Second, you must maintain your air filter and keep it clean so it can function properly. 

Fiberglass Air Filters

Fiberglass air filters are replaceable and affordable, making them a popular option for air filters. Typically, these filters have a MERV rating of around 4, which is on the much lower end of the efficiency spectrum.

However, while there are more efficient options, there are also considerable benefits to fiberglass filters besides those named above. They do manage to stop the majority of large contaminants, such as those whose size ranges between 3-10 microns.

Furthermore, fiberglass air filters don’t put a lot of strain on HVAC systems. As such, these filters are functional if not optimal

If you decide to purchase fiberglass air filters, understand that they often fail to prevent dust and pollen from circulating in the air.

If you are prone to allergies, these filters most likely won’t give you much aid in fighting allergy-inducing contaminants. 

Pleated Air Filters

Pleated air filters are similar to their fiberglass counterparts. They tend to be easy on your HVAC systems and more affordable than more high-end options. They are, however, a little more expensive than fiberglass filters. 

Where pleated air filters differ is in their material. Their material is usually either cotton or polyester, which are better at catching and trapping smaller particles like dust, pollen, and mold spores.

The added benefit of pleated air filters is the more pleats they have, the more effective they become. Because of this, pleated filters’ MERV ratings range from 5-8.

HEPA Filters

If you’re still asking, “What’s the best kind of HVAC filter,” then this is probably the answer you’re looking for. HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air,” and if that sounds high-end, it’s because it is.

HEPA filters do not have MERV ratings but are generally supposed to have a MERV rating between 17-20. They are insanely good at filtering out even contaminants at 0.3 microns in size.

These filters are recommended by the US Department of Energy, given that they filter out 99.97% of contaminants from the air.

These systems are so effective is because they have several pleats that render the filter a maze for particles. 

If you or somebody in your home has a respiratory issue, such as asthma, then HEPA filters are the best option for you. However, they do have their disadvantages.

Perhaps the greatest immediate disadvantage is their price. HEPA filters are more expensive than the previously mentioned filter types. Their next biggest drawback is that they strain your HVAC system.

Unfortunately, HEPA filters are so effective that they make drawing air an arduous task for your HVAC system. If you’re considering a HEPA filter, make sure it’s in your best long-term interest.

UV Filters

These filters are intriguing. They install into parts of your HVAC system and use ultraviolet light to kill contagions like viruses and bacteria that creep into your air conditioning system. 

If you are concerned about sickness, then these filters are an efficient choice for you. However, they are not effective in preventing pollen or dust from cycling. As we move into spring, consider this downside if you have pollen allergies. 

Need Help Choosing? We’ve Got You Covered

If you’re not sure which of the HVAC filters named in this article is best for you, no problem! We service several areas in Texas, from Houston to The Woodlands.

Are you in need of an HVAC filter? We’re the best people to call. If you want to know what the best HVAC filter for your home is, contact us today!