Keep your heating and cooling system in good condition with the right filter. At Lowe's, we carry a range of furnace, HVAC, and air conditioner filters designed to keep the air in your home clean and your system in top condition. Whether it's for heating or cooling, read on to discover how to choose the right filter for your needs.

What is an Air Filter and Why Do You Need One?

Whether you have a furnace, an HVAC system, or an air conditioner, you need a clean filter to keep things running smoothly. There are different names for these filters including AC filter, furnace filter, and HVAC filter, but they all function the same way. A filter reduces the volume of contaminants that circulate throughout your home. From pollen and smoke to pet dander, dust, or mould, a filter will keep your indoor quality at an optimum level. Filters do more than just clean the air, however. They're also responsible for ensuring that your heating or cooling system runs correctly by trapping particles before they get to important components, which could damage your system and result in costly repairs. With a filter, your system won't need to work as hard to keep the temperature in your home comfortable. This can also result in energy savings for you if you change them on a regular basis.

Capturing Common Airborne Contaminants

It's crucial to have a clean filter in your furnace or HVAC system, especially if you have a respiratory condition. When these contaminants get into the air, it can make conditions like asthma or allergies worse. Some of the most common airborne contaminants include pet dander, dust mites, mould spores, and pollen. Even bacteria and viruses can circulate through the air, spreading germs that can make you sick. Without a filter, these dangerous particles will get into the air and eventually, into your lungs.

Air Filter Types

You can find air filters made from a myriad of materials designed to keep the air in your home clean. Let's take a closer look at the most common air filter types based on the material and style:

  • polyester air filter

    Polyester or Fibreglass Filters

    • Inexpensive and disposable

    • Excellent if you need to capture large particles like dust and lint

  • washable air filter

    Washable Filters

    • These filters can be reused, saving you money 

    • Washable filters only need to be replaced every few years

    • Excellent for furnaces since they protect the motor and trap larger particles

  • pleated air filter

    Pleated Air Filters

    • Disposable and easy to replace

    • The large surface area is designed to capture more particles 

  • electrostatic air filter

    Electrostatic Filter

    • You can find these in both disposable and reusable styles

    • The filters contain charged fibres that can capture both large and small particles

    • A larger surface area makes it easier to capture a larger volume of contaminants

If you need a high level of filtration, look for HEPA filters. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters capture extremely fine particles and work well for those with allergies and other breathing problems. 

Air and furnace filters use a rating system known as the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), which is the industry standard. The higher the MERV rating of your filter, the more particles will be trapped before they get into the air. MERV ratings are on a scale of 1-20. A MERV rating of 6 or higher is recommended for home use, and most people choose filters with a MERV rating from 8 to 13. Higher ratings between 14 and 20 are preferred by hospitals since these filters can trap bacteria and viruses quite well.

MERV 1-4 (GOOD) These filters trap pollen, dust, carpet fibres, and dust mites quite well.
MERV 5-8 (BETTER) A middle MERV rating between 5-8 also traps animal dander, mould spores, and larger dust particles.
MERV 9-12 (BEST) For a higher level of filtration, this rating captures things like lead dust, auto emissions, and even milled flour.
MERV 13-16 (PREMIUM) This filter rating grabs everything from household dust and pollen to outdoor pollution, bacteria, tobacco smoke, microscopic allergens, and a variety of virus-carrying germs.

What Size Air Filter Do I Need?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to air and furnace filters. A nominal filter measurement shows the approximate size of the filter with measurements that are rounded up to the nearest inch. An "actual" filter measurement displays the filter's specific, exact size. All air filters will show the measurement based on width, height, and depth (or thickness). These sizes vary depending on the type of system you have. The most common sizes include 16 x 25 x 1, 20x 20 x 1, 20 x 25 x 1, 16 x 20 x 1, and 20 x 25 x 5. Make sure you find the exact fit for your system or else the filter won't work the way it should. Look at your current filter and use the measurements printed on the frame when you're ready to buy a replacement.

Smart Air Filters: The Latest in Filtration Technology

Keeping track of your air filter is important since they need to be changed regularly for a healthy home. Filtrete Smart Air Filters connect to your mobile device via Bluetooth. You can track the age of your filter, check on air quality levels, and get tips on how you can improve the air in your home. A special sensor monitors airflow and usage so you can see when it's time to change your filter. The Smart App from Filtrete displays outdoor air quality information, and notifications will keep you up to date on filter life.

How Often Should I Change My Air Filter?

You should replace your air filter regularly to keep your heating and cooling systems running smoothly. Most air filters should be changed every 30 days, but some models allow you to keep the same filter for 90 days. Mark your calendar or set up a reminder so you always know when it's time to change the filter. If you don't change it, your air quality will decrease, and it could cause your system to become clogged or overworked. People with pets or those who live in larger homes may need to change their filters more often. Check the packaging on your air filter to determine how often it should be changed.

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