What kind of filter do I need, and how often should I change it?

August 11, 2014

This is a loaded question, but one that we get on a daily basis. The type of filter you need varies based on your situation. Someone who travels for a living and has no kids/pets may not have to change the filter very often simply because the system rarely operates. Where as, a home with a family of six, two dogs, and three cats, may require a higher grade filter that will need changed more often. 

I have a family of three (soon to be four) and two dogs. We have a 4″ MERV 13 pleated filter in our home. However, we are soon upgrading to a new air purification system that will contain a MERV 16 filter. My daughter and I have bad allergies and our dogs shed a lot. We typically change our filter every 4 to 6 months.

Don’t understand MERV? Don’t worry, most people don’t know what it is, and that’s ok. MERV is “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value” and it is how they rate filters.

MERV_Rating_Residential

What Kind of Filter Should I Get?

Again, this depends on your situation. I suggest that you have one at least MERV 8 or higher. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 1″, 4″, or 6″ filter, just make sure that it’s MERV 8 or higher. If someone in the home has bad allergies I would suggest a MERV 13 to 16. If you’re simply worried about dust, I would suggest a MERV 11 or higher. And, for those of you who don’t care, stick with the MERV 8. It will at least protect your heating and cooling system. Oh, and don’t waste your money on the cheap blue “hog hair” style filters. I know they’re only $.70 at your local hardware, but those “boulder catchers” won’t catch the allergens and debris that will clog up your secondary heat exchanger and your air conditioning coil.

“Someone told me not to install the more efficient filters because they’re too restrictive.”

This is true! They ARE restrictive if you don’t change them often enMERV 16 Filterough. A MERV 16 filter is the most restrictive and will likely need to be changed every 3 to 6 months. Yes, they are more expensive than the average filter, but you get what you pay for. I change our MERV 13 filter every 4 months. We can get 6 months out of it, but we keep the fan “on” on our furnace. Which leads me to another matter, your filter is only doing it’s job when the fan on your furnace is operating. You can’t filter the air when there is no air movement. If you keep your fan on auto, that’s fine, you will get more life out of your filter because you’re not using it!

Most people either go by the packaging on the filters to determine how often to change their filters, while others routinely change their filter monthly, seasonally, or just “when they remember”.

Here’s what I suggest…
Washable filters – Throw it away and get a pleated filter
1″ Filters – Monthly
2″ Filters – Bimonthly
3″, 4″, and 5″ Filters – Every 4 to 6 months

If you have any questions, feel free to call, email, or tweet us @ControlTechHVAC!

Written by Clay Winters, Design Technician @ Control Tech

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‘Tis the season!

August 26, 2011

It’s that time of year again!… Or is it?… It’s time to start thinking about the winter and whether or not your furnace is going to make it through! I know it’s been one of the hottest summers we’ve had in a long time and most people are reading this going “are you kidding? Why would I be thinking about heat right now?”. The bottom line is; if we have as cold of a winter as they are predicting, everybody is going to be calling at the same time to get an estimate on replacing the furnace. Because, as most of you know, it never fails; your furnace will go down at the same time as everybody in Central Indiana.

Furnaces have really come a long way. They used to just be that “box inside”; but now they are so much more. What with variable speed blowers, multi-stage heating, extremely quiet operation, and so on. You’re getting much more than “box” that blow heat through your home. You are getting the “brain” of your home comfort system. The furnace controls the volume of air, heat, and dehumidification that is delivered to your home. Variable speed blowers are a no brainer when you are replacing your furnace. They are able to ramp up or ramp down depending on the temperature levels in the home. In the winter you can get “cold blasts” of air with your typical “single-speed” blowers; variable speed blower eliminate this because they are constantly circulating the air in the home and keeping a “more average” temperature. It’s kind of like cruise control for your system.

When you hear people talk about multi-stage, two-stage, and single-stage heating; they are referring to how many levels of heat the furnace has. The best way to explain this is; a single-stage furnace will put out 100% of its capacity 100% of the time. A two-stage furnace has a low setting and a high setting for heat. On mild days, a two-stage furnace runs at a lower capacity (1st stage) to take the chill off. When 1st stage can’t keep up; it goes in to 2nd stage. Multi-stage or “variable capacity” furnaces work much like the cruise control system of high-performance automobiles, automatically making adjustments as necessary to allow maximum fuel efficiency. They typically start at 35% of capacity and can ramp up or ramp down in 1% increments.

There are so many options out there. Make sure you contact the professionals at Control Tech when you are ready to make a decision. Keep in mind most estimates require 60 to 90 minutes to properly size a system for your home! We can’t make a 20 year decision in 15 minutes! When you call; please ask for me or mention this article!

-Clay Winters, Design Technician @ Control Tech, 317-873-3737, www.ControlTech.biz
Follow me on Twitter! @ControlTechClay


Control Tech is now blogging!

March 23, 2011

Due to popular demand; Control Tech Heating & Air Conditioning will be blogging to friends, families, and customers! Since 1983 we have stayed in touch with our customers; and that same personal touch will continue through Control Tech’s blog! We will provide our take on products and the hvac industry as a whole. Let us know if you have any questions! We look forward to hearing from you!