Pleated filters are not necessarily bad for your HVAC system, but they can be if not used correctly. It is important to understand that all air filters will restrict airflow to some degree, so it is important to find the right filter for your unit and overall system in order to reduce the amount of contaminants in the air. Pleated filters are highly efficient and durable, with MERV ratings from 5 to 12 and a longer lifespan than other types of filters. They are also great for allergy sufferers, as they can trap small particles more effectively than non-pleated filters.
Non-pleated filters have a MERV rating of 2 to 4, which means they can only capture less than 20% of particles smaller than 10 microns in size. The downside of using pleated air filters for extended periods of time is that your HVAC system will suffer from reduced airflow. This can cause the motor that powers the fan to overwork and eventually burn out, similar to a car with a red line for too long before the engine explodes. Buildup on the material can also result in lower efficiency, allowing dirt and other particles to pass through the air cleaner and accumulate on the equipment or be released back into the air.
When choosing an air filter, it is important to consider cost and airflow as well as the filter's ability to trap particles. The ideal replacement frequency for a pleated filter is 90 days or 3 months, depending on the number of pets you have and the dust and contamination in your area. Filters can also be impregnated with electrostatic properties to trap even more debris and dust for better air quality. By placing cost and airflow on the rear burners, you can have the best air quality without having to replace the filter too often.