FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

In order to find the size of pleated filter(s) used in your home, you need to look no further than your existing filters. On the outer frame, you will see at least one set of numbers. If you see two sets of numbers, the filter size needed to order replacements is the nominal size, not the actual size. You can ignore the actual size printed on your filter for this task, as the nominal size is the number set needed to order new filters.

Your filter size (again, referencing the nominal size for your filter here) will look something like this: 20" x 20" x 1" or 20" x 25" x 1" or 14" x 20" x 2"

The size of your pleated air filter is always presented in a string of three numbers, with the first number representing the length, the second number representing the width, and the last number representing the thickness.

If you’re still not sure what size filter(s) your home needs, feel free to reach out to us.

Your air filter is most likely located right next to your furnace or air conditioning system air handler. The air handler is the large box containing the fan and fan motor. The air handler pulls air in from the house through the "return" duct system, and then blows the air through the heating or cooling system and back into the house through the duct system. The air filter is typically located at the point where the return duct enters the air handler. Look for a 1" wide hinged or removable cover. The air filter will be inside.

Increasingly, air handlers are being installed in attics. This sometimes limited space will require installation of the air filter in the return. The filter is accessed by removing the grate covering the return duct. It is now unusual to have several returns in a house, with an air filter installed in each return.

Many houses have more than one HVAC system. Each system will typically have at least one air filter. Therefore your house may have air filters located at the air handler AND in the returns. You should check each possible location to make sure you have located all of your air filters.

Dirty and clogged air filters reign havoc on your HVAC system. They will not only waste money on energy costs, but they will cause damage (sometimes irreparable damage!) to your HVAC system. Here are some ways a dirty or clogged air filter impacts your heating and cooling system:

  • A dirty air filter is the #1 reason for HVAC system failure. A dirty filter restricts the air flow into your HVAC systems air handler. This restricted air flow places additional strain on the air handler fan motor and could, over time, burn out the motor and cause your system to overheat and ultimately fail. Filter replacement is a small price to pay to extend to life of one of the biggest financial investments in your home.
  • A dirty air filter makes your fan motor work harder and consume more energy. One of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce your energy bill is to replace your air filter.
  • A dirty air filter makes your heating and air-conditioning systems and your ducts get dirty faster. This can lead to costly HVAC cleaning expenses or a need to replace your HVAC unit or HVAC components sooner than you expected.
  • If the heating and cooling coils are caked with dirt and particles that would normally be trapped by the air filter, the system will work harder and be more prone to freezing over or burning out.

Your air filters are a vital part of your heating and cooling system. An HVAC repair STARTS at around $600 and an exhaustive repair (short of a replacement) can easily reach $7,000. A new system, if the damage is irreparable, starts at around $10,000. Air filters are a nominal cost when compared to the cost of repairing or replacing your home's heating and cooling system.

Regularly changing your air filters (adhering to a regular, ample schedule) is an extremely inexpensive and easy way to lower your energy bill. By changing your air filter regularly, you are ensuring that your HVAC system can operate at its highest efficiency (and making sure your HVAC system stays in good working order), meaning it takes less energy to push air through your home.

The U.S. Department of Energy widely publishes the energy savings associated with regular air filter changes. They estimate that regularly-scheduled air filter changes will save you 5-15% on your heating and cooling costs each month! For most homeowners, this is a savings of $12-$25 every single month.

The simple answer is "when it becomes dirty and can’t do it’s job any longer." But there are other factors that need to be taken into account because they affect how long a filter can last before it becomes inefficient. There is a huge amount of technical information out there on this subject which will send you to sleep in 15 seconds flat, but don’t worry, we’ve done all the background work for you. Here is what you need to know... in as few words as possible.

How many people live in your home? Do you have pets?

The more people and pets living in your home, the more frequently your filter will need to be changed. People generate dust and dirt in the air and pets contribute their own kind of dust and pet dander. Neither is good for your indoor air quality.

Does anyone in your home suffer from allergies?

The last thing you want is nasty allergens indoors repeatedly circulating through your a/c duct system. A good-quality, pleated air filter will capture microscopic allergens and it’s a good idea to change your filter more frequently. Especially if anyone in your family has respiratory issues or is an asthma sufferer.

Your outdoor air affects your indoor air quality.

Is outdoor pollution an issue where you live? For example, are you close to a busy highway system, landfill or construction site? Outdoor air quality affects indoor air quality. Local climate can also be a contributor to poor indoor air quality. If your system is constantly running to cope with high heat and humidity in summer (southern states) or extreme cold in the winter (northern states), your filter will need to be changed more frequently. On the other hand, if you live in a more temperate climate, you won’t need to change it as often.

Still not sure about your particular home? Here’s a golden rule.

Take a quick look at your filter every 30 days. If there is a coating of dirt and grime on the surface, and you can’t see the filter media, it’s time to change it out. Filters are inexpensive and compared to the cost of a larger than necessary energy bill and expensive HVAC equipment repairs, it’s more than worthwhile.

When the icy tendrils of winter chill everything to the core or when the summer sun is baking everything its rays touch, your HVAC system is what ensures your home provides a temperate, comfortable haven from the elements. Your HVAC system is critical to the comfort your home provides. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and it simply refers to the system that heats, cools, and ventilates your home. HVAC systems vary and there are many manufacturers, styles, and types. The HVAC (generally) includes the heating and cooling unit itself, lots of ductwork through the home, air returns, and air filters.

When all is working as it should with an HVAC system, it is a silent soldier for the home's comfort. However, if your HVAC system has ever malfunctioned or broken in the middle of the winter or summer, you most likely have developed a fine appreciation for the essential service your HVAC system provides.

Often times, you will find two sizes on your air filters, a "nominal" size, and an "actual" size.

What are nominal sizes?

Nominal size is the size you see printed on the side of your air filter. It stems from the actual size, which is rounded up to the nearest whole inch. There are hundreds of filter sizes and although manufacturers may make slight changes and offer very slight differences in their many filter sizes, the nominal size system ensures that you, the consumer, can fall back on industry standards and not have to have custom air filters made every time you need some clean air.

Think of it this way: what if every brand of smartphone had a different charger? Fortunately, manufacturers have agreed to standardize their cables (for the most part) so that all modern iPhone chargers are the same and most Android chargers are the same. Thankfully, the people who built your home agreed to follow a similar practice.

What are actual sizes?

The actual size is just what it says: the actual size of your air filter to a very precise degree. The actual size is accurate to one eighth of one inch. So for example:

A standard filter with a nominal size of 14"x14"x1" might have an actual size of 13¾" x 13¾" x ¾".

This actual size would be a pain to search for, which is why the nominal measurement was created.

So which one do I use?

The nominal size is the only one you really need to know when you look for air filters and it is typically printed on the cardboard edge of your air filter.

A more efficient filter is more effective at removing particles from the air as it enters your HVAC system. Conversely, a less efficient filter allows more dirt and dust into your system. This dust and dirt will either land somewhere in the system or circulate back into the house. Dust and dirt on critical parts of your HVAC system will increase your fuel consumption and increase repair and maintenance bills. Dust and dirt circulated back into your home is just plain unhealthy. Who needs that?

Ironically, the effectiveness of low efficiency air filters actually increases as the filter loads up with dirt and dust. There are two problems, though. First, it takes time for the filter to be loaded enough to get a beneficial effect so that everything that gets by the filter ends up either in your system or back in your home. Second, eventually the filter can become so dirty that the system experiences a pressure drop which can burn out the fan motor. To prevent this you have to change the filter, which takes you right back to the first problem. For the brief time that you get a small benefit from your low efficiency filter is far outweighed by the problems it creates.

A high efficiency filter is immediately beneficial because it works right away. This filter also needs frequent changing for the same reason—it can become overloaded and damage your system.

The cost-benefit equation is simple: For a few extra dollars you can ensure that your HVAC system is as clean as possible and the air in your home is effectively filtered just by using an efficient air filter that is changed regularly. It’s an easy task that FilterEasy makes even easier.

When it comes to deciding on the type of air filter to use in your home, one factor tends to play the largest role in decision making: cost. Every homeowner wants to save money wherever possible. Those looking for ways to save are excited to hear about Electrostatic or washable air filters. Although the concept is great and cost is relatively low, Electrostatic filters are not necessarily the best option for you home.

One positive washable filters have over pleated filters is they don't have to be replaced as often. You simply vacuum and rinse. They cost between 50 and 60 dollars--what you could easily spend on traditional filters in just a few months. This alone is enough to convince many homeowners that electrostatic filters are the way to go. Although the super low price is very appealing, they can lose their electrostatic charge over time and there are other important factors that can outweigh the cost benefits.

How Washable Air Filters Work

Electrostatic filters are composed of multiple layers of vented metal. As air molecules pass through the first layer, they become positively charged by the friction of the air on the metal. Dust and other pollutants then attach to the other layers as they pass through the filter toward your system.

4 Good Reasons Why Washable Filters Are The Wrong Choice
  • Electrostatic filters rely on static electricity to operate and they can only filter out so much debris. Static electricity works well to filter out the smaller, lighter particles but when it comes to larger particles or mold spores, an electrostatic filter will not be as efficient as even a 1200 MPR filter.
  • If someone in the house suffers from asthma or allergies it is better to opt for a high-filtration, replaceable filter rated at 1400 MPR.
  • After electrostatically charged dust and other particles initially pass through the first layer of the filter, not all of them are caught by the other layers. But the escaping particles still remain positively charged and can stick to components in your a/c system or the walls of your duct work promoting mold growth.
  • Think that cleaning a washable filter is as simple as a quick vacuum and rinse in the backyard? Not so. To properly clean the filter, it must be disassembled and each layer must be cleaned separately. More work than one might presume when purchasing the filter. Also, despite following the correct disassembly procedure, it may not always be cleaned properly, leaving your filter dirty even when you think it's clean.

Improper filtration can lead to high repair costs or system failure! Pleated air filters can filter more from your air, while putting less strain on your system. You may be paying more in the long run, but you'll rest easy knowing that your air is actually clean and that you aren't slowly harming your HVAC system.

There's a bewildering range of different filter types out there and it's easy to get confused. We have done the homework for you and simplified the process so you can make the right choice.

First things first: Economy fiberglass filters compared to pleated filters.

There really is no comparison to be made. Cheap fiberglass filters are usually sold in multi-packs for a few bucks and, in this case you definitely get what you pay for... very little quality. They are not efficient for two reasons.

  • The relatively open weave of the fiberglass mesh does not filter out much dirt at all and the micro-particles and contaminates present in your home just get sucked through the filter and into your HVAC system.
  • Over time, the inside components of your HVAC equipment and the air ducts get coated with crud and your system can't work at peak efficiency. This means higher energy bills and expensive sanitizing and repair bills.

In short, this cheap type of filter doesn't filter very well at all and you won't find them here at FilterEasy. If you are in the habit of buying them it's a habit you should break!

Pleated filters are the only way to go.

We only offer reliable, good quality pleated filters, which are made right here in the USA. They are up to 60% more efficient than fiberglass and have a denser, larger surface area (imagine the pleats ironed out flat) that ensures better filtration. But remember, these higher grade filters are more efficient at capturing the bad stuff and by doing a better job they get dirty quicker. That's good news … not bad news. They are both more efficient and faster at doing what they are supposed to do.

Picking the grade of filter.

Much of the information in the 'How often should I change my filter?' section also applies to the grade of filter you should choose. The number of people, pets, and any allergies will need to be considered. Also, the possible presence of smoke, smog, and microscopic contaminants that may carry odor usually call for a higher grade of filter to trap the smaller stuff.

We have simplified your filter choice. Good, Better. Best.

Our three grades of filter, 'LiteAllergen', 'MicroAllergen' and 'SuperAllergen' are simply categorized as 'Good', 'Better' and 'Best'. They each do a great job in different home environments. One of them is just right for you.

LiteAllergen. Good.

This filter easily takes care of the basics such as dust, pollen, pet dander and virus carriers whilst allowing a good airflow through the HVAC system.

MicroAllergen. Better.

Our most popular filter also offers good airflow but better filtration than the LiteAllergen. In addition to the basics, it captures smaller particles, smoke and smog. If anyone smokes tobacco in the home or the kitchen is a busy cooking area (are your smoke detectors always sounding off?), MicroAllergen is the right filter for you.

SuperAllergen. Best.

This is the most powerful and efficient filter in our line-up. The SuperAllergen traps all the contaminates the other two filters do, but also snags lead dust, oil smoke, and most importantly, microscopic allergens … some of which are 20 times smaller than a grain of salt! If anyone in the home suffers from allergies or serious respiratory problems such as asthma, this filter is a 'must.'

The denser filter media and more efficient filtration means slightly less airflow than the other two grades and it will need to be changed more frequently. In return, you will be rewarded with the reassurance of sustained, super-fresh indoor air quality similar to hospital standards. If you want the best, definitely go SuperAllergen.

What is a MERV rating?

MERV ratings were established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in order to aid consumers understanding of what type of air filter will best fit their home’s needs.

MERV is the worldwide standard rating system for air filter quality. The MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, tells the consumer how effectively a filter can catch household contaminants such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. The higher the MERV rating (anywhere from 1 to 16), the more and smaller particles are filtered from the air.

MERV Ratings. Typical Applications

1-4Residential Window Units

5-8Better residential, commercial & industrial

9-12Superior residential, better commercial, hospital labs

13-16Hospital, general surgery

It is important to keep in mind that MERV indicates the minimum ability of a filter to catch airborne particles. Over time, a filter begins to fill with dust and dander, therefore increasing its ability to stop contaminants from passing through. However, the higher the MERV, and the more a filter has already caught, the harder it becomes for your system to draw in air. A high MERV rating may seem like a good idea to a homeowner who wants to ensure they are breathing fresh air, but it is important to make sure that your HVAC system is capable of handling the restrictive properties of a high MERV filter. Home air filters with higher MERV ratings also need to be changed at a higher frequency due to their higher efficiency and particle-catching abilities. Simply put, they catch more contaminates over a shorter period of time.

MERV vs FPR

FPR, or Filter Performance Rating was developed by the Home Depot, based on independent lab test results comparing MERV ratings. It is used strictly in Home Depot stores and does not correlate directly to MERV ratings.

MERV vs MPR

MPR, or Microparticle Performance Rating, was created by 3M to rank their filters’ ability to catch the smallest airborne particles. MPR is helpful when comparing one 3M Filtrete filter to another, but it does not directly translate to MERV.

Comparing MERV, MPR, and FPR
  • The chart below shows the associated values for each of FilterEasy's filter types.
  • MERVMPRFPR
  • LiteAllergenMERV 8MPR 600FPR 5
  • MicroAllergenMERV 10MPR 1000*FPR 7*
  • SuperAllergenMERV 13MPR 1500 - MPR 1900FPR 10
  • *approximate values
  • Merv 8/Light Allergen
  • Merv 10/Micro Allergen
  • Merv 13/Super Allergen

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