When it comes to air filters, there are two main types: washable and disposable. Washable air filters typically have a MERV rating between one and four, meaning they trap less than 20% of particles between 3.0 and 10.0 microns in size. Disposable filters come in a range of MERV ratings up to 16. It's important to know which type of filter you have in order to properly maintain it and ensure your HVAC system is operating at optimal levels. Washable air filters should be cleaned once a month and thoroughly dried before being reinserted.
If you replace a wet filter in the HVAC system, it provides an ideal environment for mold and bacteria growth. Disposable filters don't need any routine care because you can throw them away and put them in a clean filter when they get dirty. Electrostatic filters work by attracting pollutants from the air through their opposite charges, capturing more particles as air passes through them. Filters can thicken with contaminants over time, and this can affect their performance.
When this happens, replace the disposable filter or clean it if it is washable. Otherwise, air flowing through these dirty filters can lead to poor indoor air quality. To clean a washable filter, first safely remove it from the air conditioning unit. Rinse it in a sink or bathtub with water and use a soft brush and mild detergent to remove sticky particles.
Once done, stir the excess water to drain through the frame drain holes and reinstall the air filter in the system. The airflow of the system will completely dry the clean filter. A washable air conditioning filter includes a metal frame designed to contain woven electrostatic fibers that are able to remove dust and dirt from the air in your home. Washable air filters are a convenient option because they only need to be cleaned a couple of times a year. They are usually made of woven polypropylene media and are electrostatically charged to capture more particulates. Another way to determine if air filters need to be changed is to hang a white sheet several inches away from one of the vents in your home or commercial facility, and leave it in place for an hour.
If the sheet is covered with dust or dirt particles, then it's time to change your filter. Another sign that the air filter may need to be changed is a sudden increase in your electricity or electricity bill for several months. Contact your local trusted HVAC technician to help you find the best air filter for your home and system. If you are on a tight budget, you can choose disposable filters because the cost per filter is cheaper than that of washable units. That said, a washable, well-maintained HVAC air filter can last 5 to 10 years before it needs to be replaced.