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How Do HVAC Filters Work?

When you get your HVAC system serviced in the spring or winter, the techs will typically replace the HVAC filters. The filters will also be among the first things that they look at if you have some sort of a problem with your HVAC system.

The filtering units in your HVAC system provide a very valuable function. As the name implies, they keep air cleaner. In fact, by using specific types of filters, it’s possible to bring indoor air quality up to standards required for very demanding situations.

How the Filters Work

Most of the time, HVAC systems in NYC use a simple filter made out of spun fiberglass, a foam or, in some cases, cloth. However, once one gets into commercial scenarios, filtration needs may not be met by these simple filters.

Many HVAC filters are pleated. These filters, because the surface is folded over onto itself, have a very large surface area and are able to capture quite a few more particulates than one might think, given the actual area of the filter. These filters have good efficiency levels, but there is one better type that is in very common usage. Some filters come with fibers that are electrostatically charged. These attract particles and are very high efficiency, and are particularly good for situations where indoor air quality is a problem.

Understanding Particle Size

When HVAC professionals in NYC talk about how efficient a filter is, with they’re talking about is how well it actually removes particles from the air. As you may have guessed, not all particles are the same size. Higher efficiency filters are able to remove smaller particles.

Particle size is measured in microns. For particles that are very small, high efficiency filters are required. For example, in facilities where oil smoke, paint pigment and potentially damaging dust are issues, high-efficiency filters are required. In facilities where larger particles really pose the problem, lower efficiency filters may be suitable, but they may need to be replaced quite frequently, owing to the fact that they fill up with dust.

Not changing the filters in time, of course, prevents them from functioning correctly. Not only will they fail to filter out particles from the air, they may actually impede the function of the HVAC system by preventing proper airflow through the ductwork and other parts of the heating and air-conditioning unit.

Considering a New Filter

If you have indoor air quality problems, one of the first things your HVAC technician might look at is the type of filter you are using in your unit. They may very well recommend that you switch to a higher efficiency filter or, if necessary, even go all the way up to a HEPA filter, which is an enormously efficient type of filter, but also one that tends to cost a bit more than others. Lower efficiency filters cost less, but they may not provide your indoor air with the type of filtration it needs to remain fresh, clean and easy on the lungs.

There are many cases where HVAC repairs come down to simply swapping out a HVAC filter in NYC. These are consumable items and, as such, among the first areas to cause problems if they are not changed out according to schedule. If you have trouble with your HVAC system suddenly using a lot of power or the efficiency drops without any warning, have your HVAC technician come over and look at the filter. They will look at other systems, as well, but it is not at all uncommon for a business owner to find out that the only problem they had was a dirty filter and replacing it is not particularly expensive.