To Pleat or Not to Pleat?

Pleated air filters are the winner every time.

That is the question. A question we’ve been asked a countless number of times. So, we thought it was about time we cleared the air. After all, removing pesky things from the air is our specialty.

So, let’s get down to it. We know you want to know... What is the difference between fiberglass and pleated air filters? Upon first glance, the differences are glaring: They look completely different and their costs are very different as well.

What’s the deal with fiberglass?

Typically, there are three arguments made in support of fiberglass filters:

  1. Their greatest advantage is their price tag. While their extremely low price - sometimes you can get one for as little as $1 - is very attractive to your wallet, purchasers often fall victim to the tried and true adage, “You get what you pay for.”
  2. There is the question of airflow into your home. The claim is that the fiberglass filter will allow the air to flow more easily.
  3. And, finally, many home buyers are told by their home inspector to never use pleated filters. Inspectors and HVAC technicians will often site fiberglass filters as being “easy on your system.”

Busting myths with pleats

Pleated filters are simply filters that have been folded to make them look like an accordion. This design increases the surface area of your filter, which allows it to catch that much more dirt, dust, and allergens. The wider space also allows for less frequent filter changes, because - with more material - they take longer to clog.

But, how do those pleats tackle the fiberglass filter myths?

Price Tag: We’ll admit, it’s hard to argue against the mighty wallet. But trying to save a few bucks on air filters will end up costing you in other ways:

  • Your family’s health - more dirt, dust, pollution, and allergens will get into your air with a less stringent air filter.
  • More frequent air filter changes, which increases the overall cost, we might add. Fiberglass filters are only good for 30 days.
  • Costly HVAC repairs or replacement - Similar to your family health, these systems do not function well (or at all!) with dirt, dust, etc. in them.

Airflow: While an argument can be made that fiberglass filters allow for the better airflow, it’s less true today than it once was. Heating and air system manufacturers have found a way to compensate for pleated filters’ decreased airflow. Advancements in HVAC technology have decreased the power required to heat air to the desired temperature. Puron's replacement of outdated Freon has also helped contribute to more efficient systems that reduce demand on HVAC. Further, fiberglass filters are capable of holding far fewer pollutants and dirt than pleated filters, due to their added surface area. What happens then? That dirty air flows right back into the air you’re breathing. Ironic, ain’t it? The relatively open weave of the fiberglass mesh does not filter out much dirt at all, and the micro-particles and contaminants present in your home just get sucked through the filter and into your HVAC system.

Impact to your HVAC: An excess of build-up results in lower efficiency, allowing dirt and other particulates to pass through and accumulate on equipment (coils, motor, blower, ducts, etc.) Over time, the inside components of your HVAC equipment and the air ducts get coated with crud and your system can't work at peak efficiency. This means higher energy bills and expensive sanitizing and repair bills.

The Perks of Pleats

Pleated air filters have a lesser-known bonus not often discussed. As you are changing that fiberglass air filter (every 30 days, remember!), you will likely release and inhale a great deal of the debris and dirt you intended to avoid. Because of their cheap construction, they don’t have the ability to securely hold the particles they’ve captured when moved. So, the nasty goes back into the air or onto the floor, and ultimately, back into your own system.

Another important plus for pleated filters is their durability. Flimsy, fiberglass filters (say that 10 times fast!) are easily and often sucked into a home’s unit. Can you imagine the expensive damage that causes?!

Pleated filters (like the ones we offer) are reinforced with a wire back and housed in a recyclable, clay-coated, moisture-resistant frame; built to last up to 90 days. No more disappearing filters and less frequent changes for you!

Staff writer