Does a Thicker Air Filter Affect Your AC Unit?

Thicker air filters may seem like an ideal solution for better filtration but they come with their own set of risks if not used correctly. Learn more about how thicker air filters affect AC units.

Does a Thicker Air Filter Affect Your AC Unit?

If you're looking for an air filter for your AC unit, you may be wondering if thicker is better. It's a common misconception that thicker air filters are always the best option. In reality, the thickness of the filter depends on the MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. A filter with pleats that are too thick can get dirty quickly and make your AC unit work harder than necessary.

A good benchmark to follow when considering MERV ratings is that if they are more than 13, the pleats will most likely be too thick for your filter. Thicker air filters may seem like the best option, as they tend to last longer due to their increased square footage for capturing and retaining air particles. A 1-inch air filter may need to be changed every month, while a 4-inch air filter can last up to six months. The effectiveness of a filter is measured as MERV, minimum efficiency report value.

The higher the MERV, the smaller the particles the filter will stop, but also the greater the airflow resistance it creates. Residential air filters must have a MERV rating between 4 and 12, but not higher. The well-known HEPA filter is often too strong for domestic use; it is more suitable for industrial and sanitary installations. The short answer is yes, but it's not really a problem, except in extreme circumstances.

Most modern HVAC systems have no problem working with higher MERV filters, which is why millions of homeowners depend on them. The main risk of high-efficiency air filters comes from the fact that they are not modified for long periods of time. If you keep abreast of changing filters, you are unlikely to experience any filter related issues with your HVAC system. Let's Bust Some Myths About Airflow and Pleated Air Filters. If an HVAC technician has ever come to examine the heating and air conditioning systems in your home, there is a chance that the common saying has been thrown at him: 'thicker air filters mean less airflow'.

However, this is not accurate and is the reason why millions of homeowners use high-efficiency filters without worrying. It can be comforting to know that your expired filter isn't as bad as it could be, but it's not doing anything else for you until you replace it. Indoor air quality is often poor because houses are built today to insulate heat in summer and seal it during winter, meaning there isn't much fresh air circulation. However, with most HVAC systems, you should be able to adapt a media filter cabinet, either under the oven or on the side. You probably don't need a HEPA filter or anything stronger than MERV 16 in your home, and the HVAC system may be suitable for something less powerful. Some air conditioning specialists have also observed that thicker filters provide a snug fit that does not allow unfiltered air to pass through.

The standard air filter consists of a medium that traps unwanted particles in the air as it passes through the filter. But it is true that they have a higher pressure drop, so they allow less air flow than cheaper fiberglass filters. Overworking the air filter, or using a filter that affects air pressure, can cause the filter to move from the safety net to the money pit. You don't want to go wrong and end up with a filter that doesn't stop pollutants in the air or that grieves the air conditioner. Not only will this affect the air quality in your home, but your energy bills may increase as your heating and cooling system works harder to compensate for a dirty filter.

Technology for HVAC units has progressed since then, and most modern units in recent years should be able to have a MERV 8 filter at least. Because there is more surface area, more air can pass through the system, putting significantly less pressure on the motor, compressor, coil, and other components. You can clearly see how the air filter reduces the total external static pressure by increasing the pressure drop. Uneven air pressure can cause your HVAC system to overwork and ultimately damage the unit and increase energy costs. In conclusion, thicker air filters may seem like an ideal solution for better filtration but they come with their own set of risks if not used correctly. It's important to consider all factors when selecting an air filter, such as MERV rating and size of your HVAC system before making a purchase.

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