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Replacement Air Filters

May 23, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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Gaining knowledge about replacement air filters has become vital in today’s world where many homes have central forced air systems. These systems include filters to increase efficiency and limit airborne particulates. Most systems have a one inch thick, rectangular shaped, fiberglass filter that fits beneath the furnace fan, into a wall or ceiling register. Air passes through the filters on its way into the central air system. The basic filter is inexpensive and ineffective (capturing only 10% of the common microscopic matter floating about). 

At some time, it is likely that choosing a replacement filter will be necessary. This guide is intended to briefly explain various types of replacement filters.

Any of the following filters will be more effective than the basic filter:
  • Pleated filters
  • Electret filters
  • Medium efficiency filters
  • High efficiency filters
  • HEPA-type filters
  • HEPA filters

Often times, medium efficiency filters are pleated. The unique woven material and added surface area (in the pleating) capture 20-50% of the airborne particulates with diameters 0.3-10 microns in size. Occasionally, medium efficiency filters employ static electricity to aid in particle collection. Disposable and washable filters are available. Filter cost starts at $5 and reaches $20.

Electret or electrostatic filters depend on synthetic fibers to create a static charge. The charge attracts particles and pulls them out of the air. Electret filters can generally be used repeatedly with proper upkeep. For maximum performance, filters must be cleaned regularly and replaced periodically. Some electrostatic filters can last a couple of years and contain a filter pad and permanent frame. Electret filter costs range from $25-$100.

High-efficiency filters (not HEPA filters) remove 60-95% of particulate matter 0.3 micron or larger in a room. Filters are both disposable and washable and prices vary accordingly. The cheapest disposable filters cost $20 and longer lasting filters can cost up to $130.

HEPA-type filters can be a high efficiency option for a room. Though efficiency varies widely from 25-95%, some pleated models are nearly as efficient as expensive HEPA filters at removing particulate matter. Before purchasing, verify all information regarding product efficiency. Remember, HEPA-type filters are not the same as HEPA filters. Generally, filter replacement is necessary annually (with constant use). Filter cost ranges from $30-$45.

HEPA (high efficiency particle air filters) units, most popular as part of a transportable filtering apparatus, are not commonly connected to central air units. Replace HEPA filters regularly. Replacement cost can range from $25-$350.

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