When installing your AC filter airflow, it is imperative to understand the airflow direction of your AC system in order to ensure that it runs smoothly and as efficiently as possible. AC systems consist of numerous parts that work together to give your home a comfortable climate controlled environment, so if one part isn’t working as well it should, it is bound to affect the entire system and you’ll notice that your air-conditioning isn’t running as cold as usual.
One of the parts that you typically have to replace by yourself through DIY maintenance is the AC air filter, which often cakes with dust after prolonged use. Replacing these air filters will help your AC system to run much better and more efficiently. Let’s first look at the different types of AC air filters that you can purchase on the market today.
Different types of HVAC filters
When it comes to HVAC filters, it is important to understand what type of filter you are using as these filters play a very important role in your home’s heating and cooling system. They do all the hard work, blocking out dust, pollen, pet hair, small particles and even allergens that you and your family might otherwise breathe in on a daily basis if they weren’t installed in your HVAC system.
Another major use of these filters are the fact that they keep your HVAC system from being affected by larger particles that more often than not, cause damage to the HVAC unit, due to the blockage that might occur as a result of these particles coming into the ducting and subsequently ending up getting between the HVAC’s airflow to the vents around your home.
Here are the different types of filters you can find on the market today:
- Fibreglass filters
Fibreglass filters are one of the least expensive type of air filters and are commonly found in most homes. However, because they are so affordable, they are easily disposable and allow your HVAC unit to draw in air easily with less strain on the system, while keeping larger particles out of the airflow. With that said however, smaller dust and contaminant particles are actually known to penetrate these filters, meaning if you or anyone in your family suffers from respiratory symptoms, fibreglass filters might not be the best choice for you, as it won’t be powerful enough to filter out small particles and allergens that cause respiratory problems.
- HEPA filters
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, and HEPA filters are one of the top choices when it comes to allergy blocking filter systems. They are known to screen up to 99.97% of pollen, mold, dust, pet hair, bacteria, viruses and other particles out of the air that goes into your HVAC system.
However, it’s effectiveness is the result of using high-quality components in its manufacture, thus it comes in at a much higher price tag than its more affordable counterparts. Also, because it is such a powerful filter, there might be a chance that a weaker HVAC system might find it much more difficult to pull in air from the outside in order to send the treated air into your home. MERV ratings are the ratings that are used to gauge filter levels, and good HEPA filters commonly come in at MERV 11 or higher.
- UV filters
If you use UV filters in your HVAC system, this means that you’re harnessing the power of ultraviolet light in your filters to help you kill viruses, bacteria and numerous other microorganisms that live in the air and get sucked into your HVAC unit. The resulting treated air that enters your home is thus clean and virus or bacteria free, ensuring the best quality of life for you and your family.
One caveat however, is that UV filters are not as efficient when it comes to blocking out dust or other contaminants.
- Pleated filters
These filters are manufactured from cotton or polyester folds, and cost slightly more than fiberglass filters. As compared to fiberglass, they are more effective at filtering dust, pollen, mold spores, pet hair and other particles, although not as much as HEPA filters do.
How to install HVAC filter airflow
If you’re trying to install a new filter for your HVAC system, always look out for the arrows on the filter that says “Air Flow” on it. Why is this so? Basically, an efficient HVAC system does two things – it pulls in air, and blows out air. A typical HVAC air filter consists of one “filtered” side and one “unfiltered side”. The filtered side does all the hard work, filtering out the dust, debris and all manner of particles efficiently, while the unfiltered side is just made out of rigid material that keeps the filtered side structurally sound for extended usage.
When you install the AC filter backwards, you’re effectively stopping your HVAC system from working as efficiently as it should. Also, by putting the air filter on backwards, you risk dust and debris getting sucked into your AC unit and thus causing damage to it.
In short – look for the arrows, and follow them!
When should I replace my AC filter?
The general rule of thumb is to replace the AC air filter every month or so – and more regularly if your house is home to multiple furry friends in a small space like a small condo or an apartment.
Not replacing your AC filter regularly results in your AC unit having to work harder than it normally should to provide the same kind of comfortable temperature you desire, eventually costing you more in electricity bills in the long run. The lifespan of your AC unit will also be shortened because of the lack of maintenance, especially when it is used on a daily basis.