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The Difference Between Fiberglass Filters & Pleated Filters

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Contrary to popular belief, there are various options for air filters you can choose for your home. You can also integrate them into your air vents.

Some filtration systems are made with fabric to trap larger debris, while others are made with microfibers to trap invisible particles. Different materials, builds, and textures are used for distinct purposes.

Microparticles aren't just smaller particles. They are pollutants invisible to the naked eye. No ordinary filtering capability can trap particles as small as atoms.

However, large debris can quickly saturate filtration systems made for microscopic contaminants. The trick is finding the right air filter and putting suitable ones together to create an impenetrable filtration system.

The most popular filtration systems you have probably heard of are fiberglass and pleated air filters. Most homeowners and contractors debate the efficacy of each while comparing their costs.

Read More: On Fiberglass air filters VS Pleated filters. 

Fiberglass Air Filters VS Pleated Air Filters

When you consult a reliable HVAC specialist, you will hear them tell you good things about both options. However, some contractors prefer one over the other for different reasons.

You should know both in detail to help you decide which fits your home better. Here, we will discuss how each air filter makes a difference.

Fiberglass Air Filters

The fiberglass air filter is cost-efficient and more effective against large particles. Fiberglass filters are made with a cardboard frame housing spun glass. They are made with woven glass to form patterns that don't restrict airflow.

Effective air filtration, abundant airflow, and affordable costs provide inexpensive quality filtering. Fiberglass air filters provide better airflow, trapping pet dander and other large debris. 

Fiberglass Air Filters Pros: Quickview

  • Air Quality
  • Affordability
  • Reliability¬†
  • Accessibility¬†

Why Fiberglass Air Filters may NOT be for you

  • Unsustainable
  • Not the most durable

While good airflow is a great quality for any air filter, fiberglass filtering systems' stability could be more reliable. Some units are affordable, but others are just inexpensive for a reason.

Flimsy fiberglass filters may crumble against pet dander, hair, plastic, and fabric. Any of us can only take so much before caving.

The right filter should withstand more and last longer. However, a fiberglass filter may become brittle and contaminate itself with more debris over time.

They may also lose affordability in the long run since their filters need to be replaced monthly.

Pleated Air Filters

Pleated air filtering systems are more sustainable. A pleated air filter is made with recyclable material. It is better at trapping small particles such as dust mites, pollen, and lint, including those found in smoke and volatile organic contaminants (VOC). If you use cologne, candles, deodorizing sprays, and incense, your indoor air quality may be reduced due to VOC saturation.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) may also contaminate your indoor environment if your home air filters can't catch microscopic pollutants. They don't saturate as fast and can last up to thrice as long as Fiberglass air filters.

Pleated Air Filters Pros: Quickview

  • Durable
  • Reliable
  • Recyclable
  • Diverse

Why Pleated Air Filters may NOT be for you

  • Higher initial cost

Most stores carry various air filtration systems, and you might find pleated options among the higher tiers. There is only one drawback with pleated air filters: their upfront costs.

With pleated air filters, you get what you pay for, leading to more long-term savings. Pleated air filters may also save your HVAC system from facing any costly repairs due to saturated air filters.

On paper, pleated air filters are better than Fiberglass alternatives. However, that's up to your home and its exposure.

What Does Your Air Filter Do?

An air filter prevents more pollutants from saturating your indoor air. Inhaling smaller particles may endanger anyone's health. Even the healthiest people may succumb to allergen-induced asthma and other sensitivities.

While in the Fiberglass air filters VS Pleated filters debacle, pleated air filters are proven to trap more debris. Various factors may still render fiberglass air filters the better option for your home.

Still, when it comes to your family's health, allergies to pollen, dust, and pet dander should be considered, along with any similar sensitivities. The build-up of different elements may pose serious risks to your family's health.

How Do Air Filters Affect My HVAC Systems?

Depending on your HVAC system, you may not need such sophisticated air filters to supplement filtration. Modern HVAC systems have combination filtration systems, trapping big and small particles. Yes, even microparticles.

An HVAC system may be fitted with HEPA and Carbon filtration. High-efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters work like fiberglass, trapping larger debris, while Carbon filters trap microparticles found in smoke and VOCs.

While you don't install pleated air filters within the HVAC unit, your home's air quality affects your HVAC's performance. Low Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) leads to heating and cooling struggles.

The better your air is filtered, the easier it is on your HVAC system.

Indoor Air Quality

Your IAQ is affected by various factors. There are more particles circulating in your ambient air than you think. You can measure IAQ against the surface area of your enclosed spaces.

Low IAQ may be an underlying cause behind your family's recent bout with the flu. If you want to know how well your ventilation and filtration systems are holding up, there are IAQ calculators you may buy to measure your home's air quality.

Buying filtration systems that are appropriate for your home's surface area is more strategic than buying one just because it's top of the line, but can't keep up.

Your HVAC air filters may succumb to excessive contamination and may need to be replaced.

Once a dirty filter allows pollutants into your airflow, it may affect its performance and distribution. A clogged air filter may permanently damage evaporator coils and other critical components.

It will cost you more to replace your entire HVAC system than to keep up with their routine maintenance. It also helps to install various supplementary filters, such as fiberglass and pleated filters on air vents.

Call Sunset Heating & Cooling for more Indoor Air Quality solutions.

How to Avoid Dirty Air Filters

The most obvious ways to avoid dirty filters are to keep your pets outside, not spray any deodorants, or use things that produce smoke. That's not a sustainable way to live in your home.

Instead, you can keep ventilation systems open when you cook, intermittently open doors and windows to let "old air" out, and clean the air filter.

There are washable fiberglass filters you may detach, soak, and clean to reuse. However, a fiberglass filter is typically disposable and may only succumb to wear and tear faster by washing and soaking.

If you have washable fiberglass filters, ensure you soak them in lukewarm water with diluted gentle detergent. You may use a soft brush to scrub off any leftover residue.

Please don't use water that is too hot or cold, and refrain from using strong detergents and rigid brushes. The same goes for pleated filters.

A pleated filter is made with fabric with smaller weaves. They cost less to maintain compared to paying for the new unit cost.

A little warm water from a pressurized hose goes a long way. You can also opt for a wet-dry vacuum to suck up hard to dislodge debris.

A pleated air filter may be cleaned and reused up to six times. That is more than you can do with fiberglass filters. However, you won't have to worry about cleaning an air filter with a higher MERV rating too often.

MERV Rating

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. Your air filter's MERV rating tells you how well it protects your home against contaminants between the sizes of 0.3 and 10 microns.

You may spend a few dollars more on a filter with a higher MERV rating. A fiberglass air filter typically has a MERV rating of 2 or 3, telling us it holds up against large pollutants well.

However, it may be congested much faster than a pleated filter with a 5+ MERV. Pleated filters are more sustainable, affordable, and easier to maintain.

Still, depending on your home's surface area and the placement of your air vents, you may need to purchase more filtration units. You may buy more fiberglass filters to cover more vents.

Our verdict in the fiberglass air filters VS pleated filters debacle is: Any air filter can do the job just fine with the right upkeep and maintenance.

Routine Care and Maintenance

Caring for your filtration systems is an efficient way to ensure your air handlers don't struggle. The less your air handlers struggle, the more you save on energy and utility costs.

Don't worry! Routine maintenance and repair for your air handlers are accessible and affordable! You can call Sunset Heating & Cooling to help with your air handlers and HVAC system maintenance needs!

If you are learning about IAQ, air filtration, and HVAC systems for the first time, you don't have to do it alone.

Sunset Heating & Cooling | Electrical (503) 500-5866

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