Home air conditioner filters are to be changed every 2 to 3 months, but it also depends on how often you use your air conditioning system. The general rule of thumb is not to wait for dust to settle and matte inside the filter. Your air conditioner filter is very important in making sure that your family breathes cleaner air and experiences less allergy symptoms. In addition, a dirty air conditioner will also increase your electricity consumption. An effective air conditioning system can be achieved with a well-maintained filter. Air conditioning filter systems are classified into 3 types based on material and operation; standard mechanical air filters, electronic air filters and pleated air filters.
Type 1 - Mechanical Air Filters
The most common air conditioning filter used in homes is the mechanical air filter. This type of filter uses synthetic fibers to tap small particles like debris and dust to prevent them from circulating in the air. Charcoal filters also use mechanical means to get rid of debris in the air.
Disposable conventional fiberglass air filters come in 2 sizes, 1 and 2 inches. The measurement usually refers to the fiberglass’ thickness. This type is the most economical but it is the least effective. You may also need to change them often because the adhesive coating and mesh that filters the air particles are often damaged by cleaning.
Type 2 - Pleated Air Filters
Pleated air filters remove around 35 to 40% of the air pollutants at home. They are more effective than other mechanical air filters because they contain more fiber per square inch as compared to disposable fiberglass filters. The more fiber present, the more effective the filter is in trapping air particles.
Type 3 - Electronic Air Filters
The most expensive among air filters is the electronic air filter. It is also the most effective filter in trapping dust and debris in the air. Electricity is used to attract smaller molecules such as smoke, mold and pet odors. These filters also come in 2 sizes as the fiberglass air filters do.
Electronic air filters can last up to 6 months; it is usually packaged with a pre-filter that attracts larger particles. However, there is some controversy regarding the ionizing properties of these filters. They are said to produce dangerous ozone substances.
On the other hand, electrostatic air conditioner filters work by charging the air with static energy that attracts dust and debris. They need to be changed every 3 months and are often marketed as allergy-free filters.
Air conditioner filters are also classified by categories through their MERV ratings. When you are planning to buy one, look for the MERV rating sticker.
Filters that belong to the MERV 7 category trap larger particles and provide standard efficiency. MERV 8 filters are useful for pet owners and for those who have dust and pollen allergies. The best home air conditioner filters are those marked under the MERV 11 category. These filters are perfect for families with members who are suffering from chronic respiratory illnesses, or if your home has low indoor air quality.