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How to Choose the Right Air Filter for Your Home

Breathing is the essence of life. The same holds true for your home’s heating and cooling systems. That’s why it makes sense every now and then to share the reason for our most common HVAC service call, and the simple DIY remedy. 

It used to be, that when someone asked me which air filter was the best air filter…I would go into a long monologue about filter choices, media choices, Electronic Air Cleaner pluses and minuses, Electro-Static Air Filters, U.V. lights, etc. It was almost always a very long conversation because it’s an important and extensive field, with lots of variables and things to consider; or so I thought.

Now however, after seeing hundreds of systems every year for over 30-years, I have realized a couple of basic realities/truths that simplify the discussion to just three main points:

  1. The single greatest or most common cause of system failure for HVAC/R systems, is poor maintenance.
  2. No air filter can last forever, and to work at all it must be changed regularly.
  3. The best air filter for every HVAC/R System, and the one that delivers the best over-all air quality and helps extend the life of the equipment the longest; is the air filter that always gets changed on a regular schedule, year after year.

In my time I’ve seen 5-year old HVAC/R equipment, with sophisticated, expensive Air Filtration Systems, where the air quality delivered was horrible, and the equipment ruined, simply because the system wasn’t properly maintained, and/or the filter wasn’t replaced on a regular basis.

On the flip side, I’ve seen 20-year old equipment in “like new” condition, working perfectly, and delivering good air quality, because the cheap, thin, buck ninety-five air filter was replaced every other month, and the equipment was serviced every 6-months by an HVAC/R contractor. 

 My dad use to have a saying; “Any system will work; if you always use it”. That is the central issue here, and one you should honestly address when it comes to choosing the best air filter for your equipment. Regardless of the specific details that make up the Air Filtration System, the real question to ask yourself is “What will work for me?”  It doesn’t matter how good an air filter can be if it gets serviced so rarely that it either clogs up the equipment and ruins it, or gets tossed aside and the equipment runs with no filter protecting it or your air quality.    

When you’re looking at the various types of air filters and cleaners available to you by your HVAC/R Contractor, or your Home Center if you prefer, choose something that you will actually work with on a regular basis, month after month, year after year. Generally, we advise people to avoid the various Electronic Air Filters and Cleaners available unless there are health issues to address like allergies, etc.  These types of Air Filtration Systems are the most expensive in both initial investment and on-going maintenance. And like most Electronic Air Filters, they must be pulled and cleaned at least monthly to work effectively.

Next, get a Service Agreement signed and started with your HVAC/R contractor, or if you’re maintaining your own equipment, get the regular service schedule on your calendar, and let the scheduling system keep you on track.  

We change the oil in our cars on a regular basis because it’s the best way to keep our vehicles running well and safely year after year. Keeping your air filters changed and your equipment serviced on a regular schedule is no different; except that when it comes to your HVAC/R system you’ll not only get longer equipment life; you’ll get a better quality of life, by breathing better, cleaner air… Day and Nite.

Bruce Davis Sr. 

Licensed Journeyman Plumber, Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R, Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R, Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor

Bruce Sr is President of Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating, a 70-year-old family owned and operated plumbing and heating business in Lynnwood, Washington.
Bruce can be contacted at:   Email: Bruce@dayandnite.net

Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037
800-972-7000

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Very pleased with the professional technician, Donavan, who came out when our water heater quit working. This was the third major problem with this water heater, so we took his advice and replaced it. Thankfully, he was able to also install the new one right away. I had confidence in his advice and ability to do the job. He was thorough and friendly. It was a five star experience. I highly recommend.

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Outstanding Service! Scheduler was pleasant and receptive. Technician (Collin) communicated well, arrived in the agreed upon time frame, diagnosed the problem and fixed the issue quickly. Previously, we had two other companies misdiagnose the problem and one company stand us up for a scheduled appointment. If we have plumbing issues in the future, Day & Night Plumbing will be our first call !

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