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Are the Furnace Filters and AC Filters same?

Most of the time, people refer to furnace filters and AC filters as two separate filters. The description and search for filters are done based on the season. For example, in the winter season, a filter means a furnace filter and an HVAC filter in summers. Yet, both furnace filters and air conditioner filters are the same things. In other words, the heating furnace and cooling system AC in your home use only one filter type.

The primary function of filters is to prevent microscopic air particles and allergens from getting trapped in the furnace or air condition system and improve indoor air quality.

Based on the size and need of one’s HVAC system, air filters are available in different sizes, such as 16x25x4 furnace filters. While termed as a furnace or AC filter, they represent the same filter. For commercial HVAC filters, there are several sizes available. You can find different sizes of filters and buy them based on the MERV requirements.

Uses of Air Filters

Whether one refers to it as a furnace filter or an Ac filter, the main purpose of a filter is to improve air quality. Air filters help to circulate clean air by trapping dirt and germs. Air filters help to trap unhealthy particles and contaminants like dust, allergens and pollen. These elements, if inhaled, can play havoc on one’s health.

Changing the Air Filters

Ensure to replace the filters on a regular periodic basis. This will allow the heating and cooling systems to work in an effective and efficient way. If the air filters are not changed from time to time, it adds pressure to your HVAC system. The furnace and air conditioner system do not work in a proper way. This can result in increased energy bills and breakdowns.

You should replace or clean your filter every one to three months. Over a period of time, filters accumulate dust, debris, and other elements. Thus an air filter needs a replacement every three months. ‘If the filters are not replaced at regular intervals, it restricts airflow of HVAC systems. This impacts the working of furnace and air conditioner systems. The fan inside the furnace and AC system does not work in a smooth manner. The build-up of dust, debris, and other contaminants blocks the clean airflow and adds pressure on the HVACs. This leads to an increase in energy usage and higher electricity bills. Replacing air filters prevents dust and unwanted particles from circulating indoors. It ensures that you are breathing healthy fresh air.

MERV Ratings

One should be aware of the correct size of the filter before replacing it. The size of the filter is available on its label. Else one can check the same in the user’s manual. When you buy an air filter along with its size], you should also check its MERV rating. MERV rating is Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It is a numeric value for rating and comparing the filter’s efficiency and performance. The standard MERV ranges from 1-16. MERV indicates how effective a filter to remove dust, pollutants, and other allergens is. Higher MERV equals better filtration. The performances of filters in accordance with MERV ratings as follows:

MERV 1 to 4: This is the basic MERV rating value of standard filters which provides filtration at a low cost.

MERV 6 to 8: These filters are cloth or pleated paper filters that provide good filtration. These air filters are most suitable for residential furnace and air conditioner systems.

MERV 9 to12: MERV with 9 to 12 numeric values are mid-range filters with high efficiency. The filters in this range can trap particles of 1 micron or larger. People having pet allergies can opt for MERV 9-12.

MERV 13to 16: MERV 13 to 16 filters are high-efficiency filters. Filters with MERV 13 to 16 can trap molecule particles as small as 0.3 microns. These filters are best suitable to prevent respiratory allergies.

Cleaning & Maintenance of Reusable filters

There are some filters that can be washed and reused. One should clean the filters from time to time to keep them functioning in a proper way. For most people, reusable filters work as a better option than opt for filter replacement. To clean the reusable or washable filters, brush off the dust with a soft cloth. After removing the excess dust, wash the filter with detergent-based water. This will get rid of debris, pollen, and other particles trapped in the filter fibers. To clean one must follow a few precautions to prevent damage to the air filters. To clean the filter, ensure to turn the furnace or AC system off and then slide out the filter in a careful way. It is better to mark the front side of the filter to ensure easy and quick reinstallation after it is cleaned. Before reinstalling the filter, make sure that the filter is dry and there is no moisture left in it. Any moisture in the filter will encourage mold growth. This can result in the spreading of mold throughout the air filter. To make sure you know when it’s time to change the filter again, it’s useful to write down the date you washed your filter. You can write the date on the filter itself to ensure timely cleaning of the filter.

Filter Types

Different types of filters available are:

  • Fiberglass Filters – Fiberglass filters are inexpensive and disposable filters. One should ensure to change the fiberglass every month. Fiberglass filters can trap the dust and allow easy flow of air. But these filters do not capture small microns like pollen and germ particles. This is why these filters are less preferable.

  • Pleated Filters – These filters trap more debris and airborne particles. Pleated filters provide high efficacy and filter out even the minute microns. These filters are more efficient and provide a high quality of indoor air. If you choose to use pleated filters, you will need to change them every three months.

  • HEPA Filters – HEPA, i.e., High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filters are more dense in fibers. These filters are more used in clinics and hospitals to control the spread of viruses and germs. These filters are efficient in removing impurities from the air. These filters are more preferred by those who have allergies.

  • Electrostatic Filters –These filters use electricity to trap dirt, dust, and other microns. Electrostatic filters are reusable and washable filters. They are effective in filtering out the pollen and allergens from the air. Electrostatic filters provide pure air and have a high MERV rating.

Wrapping Up

Furnace filters and AC filters are names of one and the same filter and provide the same functions. To keep your HVAC system in the best of its working system, one must ensure to change the filters from time to time. Having the right filter for your furnace or air conditioner is the key to having clean, healthy air. Always install a clean filter in your furnace and air conditioner. Having a good air filter ensures better indoor air quality. It improves the working of your furnace and air conditioner system.

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