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  1. #1
    Paul Tooley's Avatar
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    Default filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    All,
    I have been hearing more and more that hvac techs are recommending not to use the pleated "allergen removing" or "change every three months" filters because they place an incredible strain on the air handler. just go with the brillo pads and figure out some other means of allergen filtration.

    Having at least one son with allergies, we keep our house as clean as possible and use the pleated filters. I typically tell my clients that using the brillo pad filters would be acceptable and, as long as they are changed regularly, enhance the operability of the system as a whole.

    Question is this: has there been any statement by manufacturers or some other knowlegable source, as to what should and shouldn't be used?

    thanks for your consideration and wisdom, in advance.

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  2. #2
    Brian E Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    I too have been allergic to just about everything under the sun then some. I have also been in the HVAC trade for over 25 years and I always recommend the use of a pleated filter but I also recommend the filter be replaced every month the system is running. I write the date on the filter to help remind me as to when to replace.
    I have never seen any manufacture recommend any type of filter to use. I call the fiberglass filters more as rock catchers than filters.
    I do recommend that anyone with allergies to install a media filter. The are manufactured by Honeywell, Space Guard and General Aire to name a few, there are other brands out there that are just as good. The media's filters are about 4-5" wide and need to be replaced (media only) once or twice a year depending if you have A/C. The media filter actually works a little better when it is a little dirty as the larger holes in the media are filled first making the rest of the air thru the filter even cleaner.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Paul,

    I tell my clients the same thing as you mentioned the HVAC techs say.

    Take a dirty air filter out of the unit and listen. You'll actually hear the fan motor slow a bit. Put the dirty filter in the unit and the fan will speed up as it is having to work harder to pull the air through the unit.

    I advise clients to buy the cheaper filters that you can hold up and actually see through somewhat.

    The pleated filters in my opinion put a strain on the equipment.

    Regarding your sons allergies:

    Years ago, I had a part time job. A friend of mine was selling these vacuum cleaners and was making some serious bucks. I decided to jump in on it but only lasted a few months. What I did do was learn that this piece of equipment was the best thing in my opinion of cleaning or removing dusts from the home.

    Instead of using a vacuum bag, it uses water. Water is the only thing that will trap dust particles. All of these new ones out there that claim they do, actually do not. You can hold up a phot0-static light next to them as they are running and see the dust particles blowing out of the container.

    So basically when you vacuum or clean your just actually rearranging your dust through out the home.

    The name of this equipment is a Rainbow cleaning system. Made by a company called Rexaire. It works great.

    You can turn it on and let it run by itself in the middle of a room and just watch it pulling dust particles out of the air. We bought one when we had our first home due to the allergies our kids had.

    All I can is from my personal experience, I highly encourage the use of the product. They are not cheap, but well worth every dime spent.

    When your done cleaning you take out the container full of the dirty water and dispose of it. NO nasty bags to deal with.

    Rick


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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Paul - you may be interested in this info about duct cleaning, as well:
    Continuing Discussions on Indoor Mould- Duct Cleaning

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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Pleated are the best.

    Being as there is soooo much more surface area to the pleated filter than a 'brillo pad' filter, there is no undue strain on the equipment.

    Just like a cars pleated filter, dense material for better filtering, but 3 times the surface area makes up for it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
    Chip O'Brian's Avatar
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Pleated are the best.

    Being as there is soooo much more surface area to the pleated filter than a 'brillo pad' filter, there is no undue strain on the equipment.

    Just like a cars pleated filter, dense material for better filtering, but 3 times the surface area makes up for it.
    Jerry I disagree! Oh _hit! Today auto filters are recommending more air flow for better fuel efficiency and power. More over is not the true function of a air handler "return" to remove the latent heat from the home. By use of thick filters would this not diminish this process or make the system work harder? Thus reducing the efficiency! I generaly explain it like this, close your mouth breath through your nose then take your finger and close off one nostril and run. A trick I heard to make a spun glass filter grab more dust, prior to install a light spray/wisp with Pam.

    Last edited by Chip O'Brian; 09-17-2007 at 02:34 PM. Reason: Spellling

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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Treated "Brillo" pad filters (thus the reference to Pam) are better at catching smaller particles than untreated, but 99% of filters are not treated.
    I can't say I have ever heard of using a NON-stick cooking spray to try and treat filters to make dust stick... but hey, anything is possible.

    The "Brillo" pad filters do not do much for the air quality, they are only intended to protect the system.
    I don't have a problem with pleated filters, most systems have more than enough reserve capacity to handle small increases in resistance, just change them regularly.

    Lots of installs now are using 4" thick filters as part of the original installation. I have never seen a manufacturer recommend against using the pleated filters. Of course the last time I checked, there were many different styles of high efficiency filters rated based on micro particle size.

    It stands to reason, the finer the filter media, the sooner it will stop up unless the surface area is increased.

    Jim Luttrall
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  8. #8
    Chad Fabry's Avatar
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    I tell my clients the same thing as you mentioned the HVAC techs say.

    Take a dirty air filter out of the unit and listen. You'll actually hear the fan motor slow a bit. Put the dirty filter in the unit and the fan will speed up as it is having to work harder to pull the air through the unit.

    I advise clients to buy the cheaper filters that you can hold up and actually see through somewhat.

    The pleated filters in my opinion put a strain on the equipment.
    I understand what you're saying there Rick, but it's not a valid statement.

    Having a plugged filter on the intake side allows the fan to work easier as it's moving less air. It's not the same as positive displacement pump. Restricting air flow coming into or out of a fan housing effectively reduces the volume and that reduces load which is why the fan speed picks up when installing a filter.

    It reduces overall efficiency though by reducing volume, may lead to the heat exchanger over heating and then short cycling as the fan limit switch kicks in and out to protect the heat exchanger.


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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip O'Brian View Post
    Jerry I disagree! Oh _hit! Today auto filters are recommending more air flow for better fuel efficiency and power.
    Yes, but ... do you INCREASE the size of the filter, or reduce its ability to catch dirt and grime, thereby contaminating the engine with dirt sooner, shortening the life of the engine?

    Obviously, you INCREASE the size of the filter.

    Try this. Go to the Big Box store and by a 16" x 20" super allergen filter (one of the real nice pleated ones - like I use in our house, not the cheaper pleated ones, one of the best ones).

    Now, cut the frame off from around it and stretch that sucker out flat.

    Now, lay it under a standard 16" x 20" 'brillo pad' or fiberglass filter.

    See how much more filter surface area there is? Obviously you INCREASE the size of the filter, and the pleated ones do just that.



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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    OK OK!

    I've done some research and youse guys are correct about the pleated air filters.

    Guess I shouldn't listen to old HVAC guys.

    Another learning day on this Message Board of Life.

    **Hangs head in Shame**

    Rick


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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Don't feel bad I'm still waiting for the explanation/debate on how non-stick cooking spray makes a filter work better.

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  12. #12
    Paul Tooley's Avatar
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Thanks All!!
    I am so happy I quit lurking and started asking.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Quote Originally Posted by BARRY ADAIR View Post
    Don't feel bad I'm still waiting for the explanation/debate on how non-stick cooking spray makes a filter work better.
    1) Gets the filter all gooey and the dust sticks to it.

    2) Lets the air slip by the now slippery fibers.

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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. Brillo pads

    I've read a number of times that filters (other than powered electrostatics) with MERVs above 10-11 can reduce air flow enough to decrease furnace efficiency, but I've never been able to find a cite based on actual testing. This is typical of the comments I have found:

    Boulder Green Builders Corner: Improve Your Furnace's Efficiency - Boulder County Home and Garden Magazine


  15. #15
    Chip O'Brian's Avatar
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    Talking Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    [QUOTE=Jerry Peck;18572]Yes, but ... do you INCREASE the size of the filter, or reduce its ability to catch dirt and grime, thereby contaminating the engine with dirt sooner, shortening the life of the engine?

    Obviously, you INCREASE the size of the filter.

    Try this. Go to the Big Box store and by a 16" x 20" super allergen filter (one of the real nice pleated ones - like I use in our house, not the cheaper pleated ones, one of the best ones).

    Ok Jerry but does it reduce air flow to evaporator thus reducing efficiency? Return air removal of heat/cold function. And if you will spring for one of those over priced filters I have a proposal. On my HVAC return air I have a wind speed draw of 7.7 mph. I have a stong feeling that if replaced by your type filter the draw speed will reduce.

    Non-stick spray? The auto filters such as KN use a petroleum based filter oil to "catch dust/debris particals" from entering engine. These filters are designed to increase more AIR flow.
    Now N/S spray is a vegetable based product use a "Light wisp" may or may not get gooey. But will it catch dust? Truely I am not saying do this but the theory is the same.


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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    1) Gets the filter all gooey and the dust sticks to it.

    2) Lets the air slip by the now slippery fibers.
    Ya gotta love a guy that has an answer for everything

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Barry,

    Me thinks PAM is not the only slippery subject on this board.

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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    The cheapee fiberglass filters work fine - for keeping the HVAC clean. The one inch pleated filters will drop air flow - ever read the wrapping on 3M's filters? The wider pleated filter have significant filter area for air flow as Jerry mentioned.

    But one consideration that I didn't see here is the furnace's rating for temperature rise. If the rise is outside of the date plate's stated range then there's a problem.

    Also, undersized airducts can have the same effect.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip O'Brian View Post
    Ok Jerry but does it reduce air flow to evaporator thus reducing efficiency?
    Nope.

    There are two ways to increase air flow:
    1) remove the filter
    2) increase the filter surface area

    Now, removing the filter, we can all agree, is a no-no, right?

    So, to clean the air better, you decrease the size of the particulates which can get through the filter. However, that causes a higher static drop across the filter, if the same surface size is maintained.

    Thus, we are now back to 2) increase the filter surface area.

    How to best do that? There are two ways:
    1) make the filter opening larger so a larger surface area filter can fit into it
    2) make the filter surface area larger, then fold it up into pleats, thereby allowing the larger surface area to be fit into the same size opening.

    Oil baths?

    They work, but the oil needs to be changed frequently. Remember the older cars? They used oil bath air filters. The air entering the filter impacted the oil bath, that crud (some of it anyway, that which actually impacted the oil bath) stuck to and stayed in the oil. Not the most efficient or best filter, but, it worked 'back then'.

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    But one consideration that I didn't see here is the furnace's rating for temperature rise. If the rise is outside of the date plate's stated range then there's a problem.
    Eric,

    That's because those filters (ALL filters for furnaces I've seen) are called "return air" filters for a reason ... they go in the "return air", not the supply air.

    That filter in the photo looks like it is in the supply air, not only is temperature rise a concern, but that filter *is not* keeping the furnace clean, it is *after* the furnace.



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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Jerry,

    In this photo the return air is on the top, supply is on the bottom.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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    Default Re: filters: pleated vs. brillo pads

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    In this photo the return air is on the top, supply is on the bottom.


    That does make a difference there, doesn't it?

    Okay, but (something I didn't state earlier, but I'm sure you've covered) that filter needs to be sealed in, otherwise it is drawing unfiltered air into the return, and, worse, that puts the return within 10 feet of the combustion source. That said, *even if it were sealed over*, that's not a good place for it, if only because it is within 10 feet.

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