What kind of air filter should I use for my home central air conditioning and heating system?

Ask three different A/C & Heating technicians what kind of filter you should be using and you will probably get three different answers. You will hear some tell you to use the cheap, thin fiberglass filters (referred to by people in the industry as “rock-stoppers” – because it will stop anything bigger than a rock!), or you will restrict airflow and cause your air conditioner to work harder. Others will tell you to use a better-pleated style filter because it will filter your air better. And some will tell you to use a HEPA (hospital grade) whole home filtration system or an Electronic Air Cleaner (like the Lennox HC16 of Lennox Pure Aire with UV Lamps).

So who’s right?

The fact of the matter is none of them are right, and none of them are wrong, BUT… none are giving you an accurate answer unless they’ve done a test known as a “static pressure” (air flow) test.

While it’s true that if your duct system has poor airflow or “high static pressure” you shouldn’t restrict it any further by using a better filter (which will make your static pressure even higher (bad!), using a rock-stopper is not the answer…correcting the airflow issues is!

After all, the point of filtration is to clean the air you and your family are breathing every day, so why just throw your hands up and say “Oh well, I’m just going to have to live with asthma, colds, and the flu – because the A/C tech. didn’t have the decency to offer me a static pressure test (which is about $50 in most cases).”

With the recent uptick in dust storms we’ve been experiencing in the Phoenix, AZ area, the Dept. of Health has reported a 35% increase in people diagnosed with Valley Fever (a disease caused by airborne germs and fungi carried in the dust). Even more disturbing is it has been reported that air in most homes is 300X more polluted than outdoor air! That being said, good filtration is a must, especially in Arizona.

Disposable fiberglass filters are considered “good” (which is using the term word good rather loosely). Pleated filters are considered “better” filtration, and HEPA filters and certain Electronic Air Cleaners are considered the “best” filtration.

The bottom line: Have your duct static pressure tested with a tool known as a manometer or magnohelic, to KNOW if better filtration will cause a problem. And if it is determined you have high static pressure…have it corrected so you don’t have to compromise your family’s health!

If you live in anywhere south of Rio Verde, AZ, anywhere north of Sun Lakes / Queen Creek, AZ, anywhere east of Gold Canyon, AZ, and anywhere west of Peoria, Arizona…call Magic Touch Mechanical, Inc. Not only can we provide the proper duct testing, we are certified to make the duct repairs and offer multiple brands and types of air filters and electronic air cleaners…some only require filter changes once per year!

For the record; the author of this post has 20+ years in the HVAC industry, is a BPI Certified Building Analyst, Certified RESNET Home Energy Rater, and has chronic bronchitis…he had his duct system modified in order to accommodate the “best” filtration!