In the current COVID-19 environment, many people are asking what filters you should or should not use.  This is an issue that faces homeowners and property managers under more normal conditions as well.

When you go to the hardware store or go online, there are a variety of filters for sale — but what is best for your needs?  The cool clean indoor air that you enjoy in the summer really comes down to your filter being fresh and clean.  The same is true during the winter heating system use. Air filters play an important role in keeping your air, and your house clean smelling and being dust-free year-round.

We spoke with Ventura Air Conditioning and Heating Repair in Ventura County, CA to get a handle on what kind of filter would be best for different uses and air quality needs. Firstly, they stressed that whatever type you choose, you need to change your home air filter at least every 90 days for 1” filters, and at least every 12 months for 4” and 5” filter.  We discussed the following filter types:

Fiberglass Air Filters

These are generally the cheap disposable filters that are the most popular. The easier airflow/affordability is offset by these filters having the lowest filtering ability of all the different types of air filters. While they work to protect your HVAC system, they are less effective in screening out dust and pollutants including viruses.

Pleated filters

These are easily identified by the many pleats you can readily see on the surface and are generally made out of polyester or cotton fabrics.  These pleated air filters are more effective in filtering the warm or cool air than fiberglass filters.  The more pleats the filter has, we would expect better the screening performance.  Note that there is a trade-off between better filtering and the work your heating or air conditioning system has to do to overcome the restriction of the airflow.

Washable Air Filters

The primary appeal of these is that, while they cost more than disposable filters, they can save you a lot of money in the long run. These filters have the virtue of being able to be washed and re-used.  Ventura Air Conditioning and Heating Repair recommend that you read and understand the specifications included by the manufacturer.  Scheduling is important with these types of filters because, after washing, these filters need to dry completely.  If you use a washed filter without letting it dry, you run a serious risk of promoting mold and bacteria growth and build up.  This is in direct contravention to the whole purpose of clean air filters.

Electrostatic Air Filters

These air filters are electrostatically charged to naturally attract particles of dust and other contaminants.  They trap these, preventing them from flowing to your living or working space. These are less effective on bacteria or virus particles than they are for dust and larger particulate matter.

HEPA Filters

The highest filtering capability is with HEPA filters. “HEPA” is an acronym for “high-efficiency particulate air [filter]” This kind of filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles down to a size of 0.3 microns (µm). So viruses, bacteria, and other very small particles are trapped by the HEPA filter.  These filters are becoming more popular in the mainstream population since the first occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  These air filters also useful for people with allergies and those that might be prone to respiratory problems. 

UV Filters

If your concern is more about the invasion of viruses and bacteria into your home, these filters are highly effective without placing any strain on the blower motor.  UV filters use ultraviolet light to kill viruses and bacteria. Keep in mind that UV filters are less effective at removing dust and other particles of pollutants.  However, they are highly effective at combatting living microorganisms that may threaten your health.

If all of this has you confused, please consult a professional HVAC company, such as Ventura Air Conditioning and Heating Repair in Ventura County, California to make the most of your indoor air quality.

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