August 8, 2020

At Brothers Plumbing Air Conditioning, we strongly recommend pleated air filters compared to other filtration options. This suggestion might make you wonder, what is the advantage of a pleated air filter compared to my existing fiberglass solution?

Unlike traditional fiberglass filters, pleated air filters are normally constructed from polyester, cotton, or paper sheets. The sheets are then folded into pleats, which significantly increases the filter’s surface area. The more surface area your air filter has, the more likely it’s going to trap dust, dirt, hair, mold, or other allergens.

The Drawbacks of a Traditional Fiberglass Filter

Flat fiberglass filters are primarily designed to protect your HVAC system or furnace. This filter’s job is to block dirt, dust, and other particulates from entering into and damaging the air handler or furnace components. These filters were not specifically intended to improve your home’s indoor air quality.

Normal fiberglass filters can remove pet hair or large clumps of dust. However, they won’t be able to remove finer particulates like mold spores. The gaps in traditional fiberglass filters are easy to see with the naked eye. Anything smaller than those spaces will pass directly through the filter and into your air ducts.

In contrast, pleated filters are engineered to capture and to remove as much dust, dirt, and pollen as possible from your home. These filters are capable of removing 90% or more of the airborne contaminants from your home, depending upon the pleated filter’s dimensions.

How to Tell How Effective an Air Filter Is

Filters are rated using a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). Most fiberglass filters have a MERV number between one and four. Filters rated at MERV four can remove fewer than 20% of the air particles that are between 0.3 and 1.0 micros in size.

As a comparison, pleated air filters can have a MERV rating of up to 14 or more. At that level, the filter will remove between 75% and 85% of the contaminants that are between 0.3 to 1.0 microns in size. Furthermore, a 14-rated option will remove 90% or more of the particles that are larger than 1.0 microns.

MERV 14 filters are capable of capturing not only pollen, dust, and loose carpet strands, but also bacteria, smoke, and other microbes. Eliminating these contaminants will make a noticeable difference in your home’s air quality.

Other Benefits to a Pleated Air Filter

There are numerous benefits to a pleated air filter beyond cleaner indoor air. Eliminating more dust, dirt, and debris from the air before it enters your air handler or other HVAC components can prolong the life of your system.

If your system does not have proper filtration, then you will likely see an increased buildup of dust and other particulates in your ductwork and vents. Over time, this accumulation of dirt and contaminants can restrict the airflow throughout your home.

By then you may start to notice that certain rooms are not as warm or as cool as they once were. This situation could become a major health and safety issue during the summer months when temperatures can exceed 100 degrees.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Brothers Plumbing Air Conditioning if you are beginning to experience comfort issues in your home. We have experienced technicians who can assist you with analyzing your current system’s performance and ensuring that you are continuously comfortable in your own home. Please also feel free to contact us for additional details about our available HVAC maintenance services.

How Often You Should Change an Air Filter

In general, your HVAC filter should be replaced every three to six months. However, the frequency with which you need to replace your filter depends upon a number of factors. Your existing filter’s dimensions, including its thickness, can have a significant impact upon the length of its usefulness. Larger and thicker filters have more surface area and will be better able to remove particulates before needing replacement.

Similarly, cheaper and low-quality filters will need to be replaced more often than high-quality ones. These cheaper filters usually clog faster and could need to be removed as often as once per month.

Your home’s environment will be a major contributor to how often you need to install a new filter. For example, if you have multiple dogs, cats, or other pets in your home, then your filter will likely have to capture more dander and hair. As a result, you will have to install filters more frequently.

Help Improve Allergy Symptoms

For allergy suffers, consistently swapping out your filter may help alleviate some of your symptoms. A clean air filter will usually be able to capture more pollen, mold, or other irritants than an older, dirty filter.

Key Signs an Existing Air Filter Should Be Replaced

Warning signs that you need to replace your filter include:

  • The back of your air handler or furnace feels hot to the touch
  • You notice consistent, unexpected increases in your utility bills
  • You sneeze, cough, or have more allergy symptoms in your house than you did before
  • You observe more dust, dirt, and debris in and around your air vents
  • Your filter has changed from white or off-white to gray or black with visible grime buildup

Drawbacks to Using Pleated Air Filters

Pleated air filters are safe and provide superior air quality results compared to similar fiberglass options. However, there are numerous important elements that you should consider when selecting the best air filter type, size, and style for your home.

While pleated filters with higher MERV ratings capture more particulates than non-pleated ones, these filters are generally more restrictive on the airflow through your system. In general, the higher the MERV rating, the more restrictive the filter is in terms of airflow. If the airflow becomes too restricted, then your system’s cooling and heating efficiency will decrease. In other words, your HVAC unit will have to work harder to cool your home.

Pleated air filters come in a wide range of thicknesses that can fit into your system’s cabinet. There are options as thin as 1 inch or as thick as 4 or 5 inches. The best part is that these thicker filters often have higher MERV ratings and are therefore better able to remove smaller particles from the air.

Get Professional Assistance and Recommendations

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions about which filter options would provide the best balance between air quality and efficiency for your HVAC unit. Our knowledgeable staff and technicians would be happy to discuss your concerns in more detail.

If you require any other type of air conditioning, sewer, or plumbing services, please reach out to Brothers Plumbing Air Conditioning in Peoria, AZ. We would love the opportunity to serve your home comfort needs. Call, email, or message us today to learn more about our comprehensive list of HVAC services.

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