Everything You Need to Know About Whole House Air Filters

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What can be so complicated about a whole house air filter? After all, they serve one purpose. Despite the simplicity of the air filter, there is a great deal of variation. Before you get lost in the aisle of your hardware store, check out this guide to your AC filter.

Whole House Filters Aren't Typical Filters 

‍Before you do anything, you should know that whole house filters are not the same as common one inch filters. Although these filters are sometimes called whole house air purifiers, whole house air filters are not purifiers. A purifier is an addition to your AC, while a filter is a part of your system. 

Throughout your home, your AC has several filters. You need to change those filters regularly and you probably already do. However, the whole home filter is unique. There's only one filter in your home, although you may have more if you have multiple air handlers. 

The air handler is in charge of air regulation and circulation. As the name implies, the air handler handles your air.  The whole house air filter helps to keep that air clean. 

What It Looks Like‍

If you find a filter that's the inches thick or more, it's probably a whole home filter.  It's almost unheard of other AC filters to be that thick. The average thickness is four or five inches, but that varies and your filter can be as thick as six inches.

Whether you have a whole home filter or a one inch filter, it will have the same basic appearance. The main difference in appearance is that whole house filters have more surface area. If you look at the pleats, you will see that they are very deep.

The nominal size of a filter is the rounded size. Each dimension rounds up or down to a whole number, so two 25x23x5 filter might not be the same size.  For an accurate filter size, you need to know the exact dimensions or use the same brand with the same dimensions. Otherwise, there's a risk your filter won't fit at all. 

Where They Are

One inch filters go into the wall or ceiling, covering the intake vents. However, the whole house filter goes in front of your HVAC unit. The setup varies based on your system and the type of filters you use. In some cases, you might have a cartridge. At other times, the filter goes in a slot. 

If you have trouble finding your filter, it's time to call an HVAC technician. They will be able to tell you more about your filters location as well as any other aspects of your HVAC system. 

Other Facts About Whole House Filters

To keep you from making any mistakes with your filters, there are a few things you should know. For instance, they don’t need to be changed as frequently as your other filters. Due to their large surface area, whole home filters can last for an entire year. As a general rule, you should change it every six months. The frequency of changes depends on the local air.

If you have a high pollen content or pets in your home, your filter will be dirty. ‍But a home with excellent air quality doesn’t need a frequent filter change. The rating of your filter also matters. When you buy your ac filter replacement, pay attention to the rating.

‍The Cost

One of the first questions people have about whole home air filters is regarding the cost. Because these filters are thicker and last longer than one inch filters, they cost more. The typical price range of these filters is between $25 and $35, but some can cost more than $40.

Once again, it's a question of spending more up-front to save money in the long-run. Although one inch filters are cheaper, they need to be replaced every three or four months. Furthermore, you probably have multiple filters to change. 

‍Should You Have a Whole House Filter?

‍When you buy a home, you inherit whatever type of filter system it has. If your HVAC system uses one inch filters, you can't change that without installing a new system. Likewise, you can't convert a whole home filter to anything else.

In reality, it doesn't matter what type of filter or filters your home has. The filters work hard to keep unwanted particles from your air. If you want to have good air quality, you need to change your filters regularly. ‍Failing to do so results in poor air quality and an HVAC system that needs to work harder than necessary. 

Even when you buy a replacement HVAC system, you probably won't have much choice in the matter. There are other factors that affect you more than the type of filter. For instance,  the size of your system, setup of your ductwork, and energy efficiency needs all impact your decision. 

Tips for Caring for Your Filter

Now, there's only one thing left to know about your whole home filter - how to care for it. Although we touched on this topic on previous sections, it's easier to look at the overall picture. 

First, you need to change your filter at least once a year. At the six month point, check your filter. Is it clean or dirty? If it's dirty,  you should change out your filter. 

Secondly, you need to make sure you don't block the air handler. If you place any furniture in front of the filter and the handler, you risk your HVAC system breaking down and having high energy bills. 

Finally, make sure you replace your filter with the right type. You should only buy a replacement filter if you are certain of the size. To determine this, you might need to consult with your HVAC technician. 

Do You Have Questions About Your AC Filter?

If you're still confused, don't get frustrated.  When it comes to filters, there's only one thing you need to know - that you can call us at Bayside Heating and Cooling in Severna. Contact us now and learn more about your AC filter in Severna. 

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