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4 Tips for Buying and Installing HVAC Air Filters

The air filter aisle at most hardware stores can make a person feel a bit giddy. So many to choose from and, well, so little direction on which filter would make the ideal choice. Do you grab-and-go or stop to read the fine print?

Don’t let something as simple as an air filter make you avoid the HVAC accessory aisle altogether!

In today’s post, we’re taking the mystery out of shopping for furnace filters. Take a minute and read our 4 tips for buying and installing HVAC air filters.

Buying the Right Size Air Filter

Selecting the ideal furnace filter isn’t so much about the brand, it’s about the right size! If you get home with a filter that doesn’t fit your furnace cabinet, you’ll turn right around and go back to the store. While there’s not a standard size, the most common include:

  • 16″ x 20″
  • 20″ x 25″
  • 16″ x 25

You can find the size for your unit in your owner’s manual. If you can’t find the manual, look on the filter—most have the size printed somewhere. As a last resort, pull the old filter out and take it with you.

Of course, you can also phone the professional who services your HVAC system and ask them!

Learn About MERV

If you’ve never heard of MERV, it’s a numbering system and a good way you can compare the efficiency ratings for the wide range of furnace filters on the market today.

Developed by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), MERV assigns a value between 1 and 16 to each filter type. Why should you care?

Your air filter removes dust and other particles from your indoor air. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter works to prevent harmful particles from entering your airspace. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, you need to know MERV!

Pleated or Non-Pleated?

When you shop in a discount or hardware store for a new furnace filter, you’ll notice both pleated and non-pleated options. Choosing between the two has nothing to do with looks!

The non-pleated filters are the least expensive. With a MERV rating between 1 and 4, they’re also the least efficient. They do an okay job of removing dust but do a poor job of keeping mold, pollen, and fine dust particles out of your indoor air.

Pleated furnace filters do an excellent job of trapping allergens and fine dust. They cost more but their MERV rating—between 7-9—makes them an excellent choice for people with allergies and other respiratory conditions.

The How and When of Installing HVAC Air Filters

Your HVAC professional may suggest changing your air filter every 3 months.

Several factors may mean you install a new one more often. These include:

  • Respiratory Conditions
  • Pets
  • Smoking

If any of these exist in your home, consider more frequent changes.

For most HVAC systems, installing a new filter takes just minutes. There’s a slot for the filter in the blower motor compartment. Put the filter in the slot with the arrow facing toward the blower motor.

Installing a new filter is the one thing every homeowner can do without assistance!

Need to Schedule HVAC service?

Now that you know a few things about buying replacement HVAC air filters, you’re ready to face the rest of the winter, right?

Heating season is also the time when HVAC systems often need extra TLC. If you’re experiencing problems with your system, we’re here to help! Contact us today and schedule service.

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