Are AC and Furnace Filters the Same?

The HVAC system in your home is complex, with the air filtration system being a vital mechanism. Air filters catch any unwanted contaminants and prevent them from recirculating in your home. HVAC systems utilize filters for both the heating and cooling process, so learning about them is important. Are AC and furnace filters the same?

Let’s dive into the differences between the two filters and how to select the right one for your HVAC system.

Are AC and Furnace Filters the same? 

Whether you have a central HVAC unit or a split system, all the system’s air passes through the same filter. There is no need to purchase separate filters, as each HVAC unit only needs one to operate efficiently. 

In most cases, you will find this air filter between the HVAC unit and the return duct of a central HVAC unit. There are a few materials that A/C and furnace filters are made from, with these materials being:

  • Cloth
  • Fiberglass
  • Pleated Paper

These materials are in a cardboard frame placed at the entry point of the return duct. The furnace and air-conditioning draw the same amount of air through the HVAC system. If the system is not properly maintained, it can affect the overall efficiency. 

How Often Should I Replace The Filter? 

Replacing the A/C and furnace filter should be a regular step in your home’s maintenance. The HVAC system won’t receive the ideal airflow if you wait too long between filter changes. Contaminants like dust, pollen, and pet fur will block the air from passing through. 

If you want to ensure your home’s HVAC system is working in peak condition, you should replace the filter every 90 days. However, this maintenance schedule can change depending on your lifestyle. 

Pets can speed up the time between filter replacements as the pet hair accumulates in the filter. You should also replace the filter more frequently during the winter because of the system’s constant usage. 

How To Select The Right Filters

When picking a filter for your A/C and furnace, the two main considerations you need to make are the size and efficiency of the filter. Picking a size for your filter is straightforward, with the previous filter making for an easy guide. 

However, the filter’s efficiency is a much harder choice to make. Determining the effectiveness of a filter is based on its minimum efficiency report value, or MERV. Below are the MERV ratings for air filters: 

  • MERV 1-4: This level offers the most basic level of filtration and is a low-cost option for homeowners. 
  • MERV 5-8: This MERV is ideal for residential settings, offering the optimal filtration from common contaminants. 
  • MERV 9-12: If you want an excellent level of filtration from dust particles, this level is effective. 
  • MERV 13-16: This level is the highest rating for air filters. These filters are only necessary for specialized settings.

If you have questions about choosing an air filter or questions about your HVAC system, call Sharon’s Heating and Air Conditioning today at (734) 425-1415.