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Not Happy With Pleated Filter Performance, Try Media Pad Filters

Not Happy With Pleated Filter Performance, Try Media Pad Filters
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After two months of our heating slowing down, and  finding it was the filters, we bought a filter gauge for our air filter.  3 months in a row now we’ve found we need to change our filter once a month… we have 1 small dog, have the house cleaned and vacuumed every other week and live on a dead end off a dead end, backed up to a cemetery (no traffic).

Why is our filter getting so dirty in just one month? Makes me feel like I should just go with disposable filters.  What do you think?

In late December, our house was colder than the thermostat set point for hours.  I called the oil co. for a service call.  I swore up and down it wasn’t the filter, but he kept suggesting it was, and sure enough, it was

dirty-pleated-furnace-filter – In less than a month the filter was actually sucked out of shape.  I was so embarrassed!  But we keep a note on the attic pull down with the date last changed so he knew I wasn’t mistaken.

The next month we changed at a month, and this past month we had the gauge saying it was time to change the filter again after a month.

Hubby buys whatever he can find in pleated at Home Depot, because we have to cut them (20 x 221/4) But the tech from the oil company used what I believe you call media filter pads.

Just seems like so much dirt.  Our return is in the hallway ceiling so the dog hair probably doesn’t even get up there.

That is a fairly common problem and unfortunately it is one of the negative characteristics of pleated air filters. They are very efficient but their dust holding capacity is not great. Dust is collected on the surface of the filter and can quickly become a problem.

You Have a Couple of Options That Can Help Solve This Problem.

1)Install Thicker Pleated Filters compare-pleated-filters

Your first option is to use thicker filters. Thicker filters have more surface area for dust to collect. The image to the right shows two 16 X 25 inch pleated air filters. The difference is that one is one inch thick and the other is four inches thick.

The four inch thick filter can stay in the system at least three times longer than the one inch filter before needing to be changed because there is a much larger surface area for dust to collect. It will take longer for the thicker filter to become clogged with dirt.

Cutting pleated filters to fit is not a good idea because the frame of the filter becomes weak and it can be pulled into the air stream. Depending on system design it could be very difficult to remove.

Also, removing part of the frame will allow more air to bypass unfiltered. Rather than cut them to fit you should use custom size filters. They are available from 1 to 4 inches thick.

2)Change To Media Pad Filters

Your second option is to switch to media filter pads. Although  media pads are not as efficient as some pleated air filters they still do a good job.

The advantage of media pads is that they have a much greater dust loading capacity than pleated air filters.

filter media padsRather than all of the dust being collected on the surface area of the filter, which is what happens with pleated filters, dust is collected throughout the entire 1 or 2 inch thickness of the media pad filter material.

Distributing the dust through the entire thickness of the filter material means the filter can remain in the system longer before having the same negative effect on air flow. The dust loading capacity is much greater.



p.s. If your return duct is located in a crawl space or attic make sure the duct is sealed properly. This will help reduce the amount of unconditioned air and dust that enters your home.

About the author: Don has been working in the HVAC industry for more than 25 years and shares his experience and knowledge on this site. If you find the information presented here helpful please share with your friends.

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