Plumbers 911 HVAC maintenance and repair
23 May

A guide to AC filters: How to boost performance and breathe easier

It’s spring, and the weather’s finally starting to get nice again. Before too long, summer will be here. The hot months of summer can seriously crank up your energy bills. Proper air circulation ensures your air conditioner runs at peak efficiency, saving you money and keeping your home cool and comfortable, even during an excruciating heat wave.

That’s why clean air filters are so important. They provide proper circulation so your AC system is not overworked. If you aren’t getting proper airflow, check your filters. If they are clogged, your system won’t run as efficiently. The air can also become polluted by pet dander, pollutants and pollen, which can be hard on those who suffer asthma or allergies.

Our air conditioning guide explains everything you need to know, and when to seek professional help.


The importance of air conditioning filters

An air filter cleans particles from the air. It consists of a porous structure that protects the air from coarse, large particles that pollute the air. A clean air filter helps your system run more smoothly and efficiently, while also protecting your lungs from dangerous contaminants. 

AC filters are typically made of a fine fiberglass thread. Sometimes it is wrapped around a frame or is made of cloth wrapped around a cardboard frame. Properly cleaned filters are essential to quality air and healthy breathing.


Measuring the efficiency rating of your AC filter

An air conditioner filter’s efficiency rating is measured through “Minimum Efficiency Rating Values” (MERV), which range from 1 to 16. MERV was derived from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers and measures the amount of matter of a particular particle size the filter can stop. A higher rating indicates a stronger filter. But that doesn’t mean you need a filter with a MERV 16 rating in your home. Each filter has its own application.

If you want to learn more about MERV ratings, click here to read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency description. 

Most standard and affordable filters that provide basic filtration range from 1 to 4. For your home, you’ll probably want a MERV rating of 6 to 8. These filters tend to feature pleated cloth.

Mid-range filters that are higher quality are in the MERV range of 9 to 12. These are capable of filtering out particles of 1 micron or greater, and are ideal if someone in your household suffers from allergies or asthma.

Filters that feature MERV ratings in the range of 13 to 16 are designed for laboratory or hospital settings. They can capture particles 0.3 microns and greater. These filters are higher grade and more expensive.

Keep in mind that higher range filters can impact the efficiency of your AC. By filtering air flow, a higher grade filter will also block air flow, making your AC work harder and use more energy. But if quality air is essential or someone in your home has a specialized health need, a higher energy bill may be worth the tradeoff. 


How often should you clean or change air filters?

It’s important to regularly clean your air filters so the air in your home stays clean and your AC system runs at peak efficiency. How often you need to clean the filter depends on usage. You may need to clean it more often in the hot months of summer when you rely on your AC the most.

We recommend cleaning AC filters every two weeks, or roughly every 200 to 250 hours of use. You should change your air filter every three to four months. You’ll want to make sure you have a fresh filter at the start of the summer.


The importance of seasonal air conditioning inspection

To ensure peak efficiency and optimal air quality, we also recommend having your air conditioner inspected and serviced on an annual basis by a HVAC professional. They can inspect your filters and system to see if anything needs cleaned, replaced or repaired. This way you know your system is performing well before the busy summer season starts.


Call HVAC 911 today!

We recommend calling HVAC 911 before the beginning of summer to schedule any routine maintenance. We are a network of qualified HVAC technicians that can inspect, clean and repair your AC system so it’s in great shape at the start of the season.

All of our HVAC Techs are specially trained and undergo a rigorous vetting process, including a  background check and drug testing. They are also insured and bonded. Find a local HVAC 911 tech in your area today!