If you have a central air-conditioning system that you rely on to cool you down all summer long, then you want to make sure that you keep the system well maintained. One of the easiest tasks that you can complete involves changing the air filter. You will need to change the filter at least once every one or two months. Simply pull out the old filter from the air exchange or plenum and replace it with a new one. While the replacement is easy, choosing a new filter may seem like a difficult task based on all of the options that are available to you. If you want to learn about some tips on how to choose the right filter, keep reading.

Look at Outdoor Moisture Conditions

If the weather in your area is quite dry during the summer months, then one of your main concerns may be removing as much dust and debris from the air as possible so it does not enter your home. If this is the case, then purchase an electrostatic filter. These filters contain polypropylene filter media in a wire-mesh holder. As the air moves through the wire-mesh openings, it becomes positively charged. This creates static electricity, and dust is attracted to the filter. As the dust sticks to the filter, it collects, and clean air can move through your home.

Electrostatic filters sometimes have pre-filters that collect the larger particles of debris before air moves through the main filter. The pre-filters are typically activated carbon varieties that absorb smells so foul odors do not move into your house. This is advantageous if air is pulled through an air intake vent that sits on the exterior of your home.

Both pre-filters and electrostatic filters can be washed and vacuumed, and you will need to clean the filters regularly. Depending on the dry conditions outside your home, you should be checking your filter about every two to four weeks for signs of accumulated dust. Remove the dust as soon as it starts to build. Otherwise, you may experience something called dirty sock syndrome. Dirty-sock syndrome occurs when the cool air forced into your home from your AC unit smells like a dirty sock. This smell comes from the mold, bacteria, and moisture that can build on the evaporator coil and the filter. 

Consider High Temperatures

While an electrostatic filter or even a basic AC filter with a high MERV rating can help to keep the dust and debris out of your home, great filtration may limit airflow. As electrostatic filters remove dust, the openings in the woven filter material will begin to clog. Filters with a high MERV rating will experience reduced air flow even when they are clean because the filter fibers will sit close together.

If a tightly woven or a dirty electrostatic filter reduces airflow, then your home may not seem cool on the hottest days. Your AC unit will need to work extremely hard to cool your house, and this can cause parts to wear down much more quickly. If you want to prevent breakdowns, then you should make sure that air can flow easily into your home. You should be choosing a MERV rated filter with a rating between 7 and 12 to ensure good AC airflow. 

If you do not have allergies and do not mind cleaning a little bit of dirt out of your home, then opt for a pleated filter with a MERV rating of 7 or 8. These filters will remove up to about 35% of all dust and debris particles. Box filters with paper media will give you a bit more filtration of about 55% if you choose a filter with a rating of 10. Fiberglass filters with a rating between 11 and 12 will remove up to 75% of the debris from the air. Keep in mind that a fiberglass filter may not let a great deal of air through the media. If you notice that air flow is low after you add a 11 or 12 MERV rated filter to your system, opt for a paper or a pleated filter. 

If you would like to speak to an HVAC contractor about your situation, visit sites such as http://www.alliedme.com to find a professional near you.