How to Find the Right Filter for Your HVAC System

When choosing an air filter for your HVAC system, you will be presented with many options, but that doesn’t mean the buying process has to be confusing.

Metro Duct Cleaners has prepared this simple guide to walk you through every step of selecting a filter that’s perfect for you and your home.


What size of air filter you should buy isn’t necessarily your choice; in order to work properly, the filter must be the correct size in accordance with your HVAC system.

If you are unsure about the size of your filter, look at the owner’s manual that came with your system. If you don’t have the manual, remove the old filter and take it to your local hardware or HVAC supply store.

An associate there should be able to tell you what they carry that is compatible with your system.

When you place your new filter into your system, it should fit snugly. If it’s loose, swap it for one of a different size. If the filter is too small, air will flow around it instead of passing through it.

Type of Filter

After determining the size of filter that’s needed, your next step is to choose what kind of filter you want. There are four main types: fiberglass, pleated, electrostatic and washable.

  • Fiberglass filters are usually inexpensive and disposable, and are effective at filtering large particles, such as lint and dust. However they’re not as good at capturing smaller particles, like pollen, as other types of filters are.
  • Pleated filters are also disposable. They tend to have larger surface areas, which allows for superior particle-capturing abilities.
  • Electrostatic filters come in both reusable and disposable options. When air passes through these specially-manufactured filters, they generate strong static charges. As sixth grade science taught us, negatively-charged particles are attracted to positively-charged ones and vice versa, which allows these filters to attract airborne pollutants like a magnet.
  • Washable filters are less common and usually more expensive, but only require replacement every couple years. As the name suggests, these filters can be washed by simply running water over them. However, their efficiency actually improves when a sufficient amount of dust is allowed to build up on them.

Just as the actual filter can be made out of different materials, so can its frame. Air filter frames can be constructed out of anything from cardboard to aluminum.

The key qualities to consider when determining frames are how long you want your filter to last, and the power of your HVAC system.

If you are buying a washable filter that you expect to last for two years, it would be wise to spend a little extra money for a more durable frame. Similarly, if your HVAC system moves air very quickly, a frame made out of cardboard may not be able to withstand the air pressure.

Filter Performance

Filters also vary on how well they remove different kinds of particles from your home’s air circulation. While the material the filter is made out of is a big factor, not all filters made of the same material are equally effective.

The performance of your filter is primarily related to the needs of your home. The Home Depot has created a filtration rating system based on how effective their filters are at removing specific types of pollutants (large particles, small particles, smoke, etc.) from your home’s air.

What You Need to Know About Your System’s Filters

Your filter is a key part of the performance and efficiency of your heating system, but it is often forgotten about.

“In fact, it is estimated that 90 percent of heating equipment problems are caused by dirty filters”.

Save yourself problems this winter by regularly replacing yours. Everything you need to know about replacing your filter can be found in this article brought to you by the duct cleaning experts at Metro Duct Cleaners.

Metro Duct Cleaners is a professional Minneapolis/St Paul and Surrounding Area duct cleaner. We have duct cleaning equipment that can reach every section of your HVAC system in order to provide you with the cleanest ducts possible. For a free quote, contact us at (651) 252-4654.

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