If you’ve ordered a new filter for your HVAC recently (and you should, because you are supposed to change it every few months), you may have seen – or even bought – a high efficiency filter. So what does a high efficiency filter do differently than a regular HVAC filter, and what can it mean for your system and your home’s air? Let’s explore the advantages of high efficiency filters.
What A High Efficiency Filter Does Differently
A regular filter (about 1 inch thick) is meant to protect the HVAC equipment and not improve indoor air quality, as many homeowners believe. It takes the big stuff out of the air, but helps very little with regard to air quality for our lungs, because it’s not specifically designed for that purpose says our expert Keith Hill, manager of technical support at Minnesota Air.
On the other hand, high-efficiency filters are better for filtering dirty air, but may need duct modifications if you choose the thicker kind.
“High efficiency filters are a great way to provide cleaner air for you and your family. Some can remove even microscopic particles like viruses, mold spores, and cigarette smoke,” says Keith.
- Reduction of Allergens
- Fewer Respiratory Irritants
- Less Dust In The Air
- Cleaner Smelling Air
- Ductwork and HVAC Components Stay Cleaner
“Many people with health issues like asthma or allergies can benefit greatly with cleaner air,” says Keith.
He reminds homeowners that if you make the switch to a high efficiency filter, it’s best to check with your HVAC pro to make sure your system can handle the upgrade. Buying the wrong filter for your system can create trouble with your HVAC because it can reduce airflow to your system.
“There are many high efficiency filters on the market today, but many are made by companies that are not familiar with the airflow requirements of modern furnaces. Replacing a standard 1” thick filter with a high efficiency filter without verifying the airflow is literally gambling with the reliability and longevity of your furnace and air conditioner,” he says. “Low airflow due to a high efficiency filter that is restrictive is like operating with a dirty filter – in AC mode, it can cause coils to freeze and may lead to compressor failure, and in heating mode it can cause overheating which can lead to heat exchanger failure.”
Since every system is different, a pro can determine with a simple airflow test the type of filter your system needs or if modifications can be made to help it run even better.
Still not sure how to pick out a filter? You can check out our guide to picking out the proper filter for your system here.