Filters in the Air Handler vs. Return Vent Filters — Which Option You Should Choose?

Man Removing Dirty Air Filter

The Air Quality Of Your Home Depends On Which Filter You Use

Regular daily activity in any indoor space can create contaminants that can lead to significant discomfort and health risks for the people living or working in that space.

These particles and contaminants can include:

  • Smoke
  • Dust
  • Allergens
  • Bacteria
  • Chemicals
  • Pet dander
  • Food odors
  • And more

Proper installation of air filters is a proven way to reduce contaminants and improve indoor air quality. In this post, we discuss two types of filters and how they work to address contaminants.

Do Return Air Vents Need Filters?

If your HVAC system has a filter in the air handler, return vent filters are unnecessary. Return vent filters operate behind the openings of the return vents in your house. They support HVAC system components by removing solid contaminants from the air. As the air is pulled into the return vents, the filter catches contaminants before entering the air stream in the ductwork.

If you do need return vent filters for your HVAC system, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Return vent filters are simple to replace. Measure the opening’s length, width, and depth to determine the needed dimensions. To accommodate vents with odd shapes, filter materials are available in rolls you can cut to fit.
  • Use pleated air filters with MERV-5 to MERV-8 ratings.
  • Change these filters at least every three months.

Infographic of a return vent filter in a home

Air Handler Filters & Furnace Filters

Air handler filters, also known as furnace filters, are single filters closer to the furnace itself as part of the blower. Return vent filters aren’t needed in HVAC systems with air handler filters.

Some aspects of these filters to consider include:

  • Air handler filters are great at removing bacteria and allergens from the air. This means increased comfort for people more susceptible to airborne allergies and diseases.
  • When it’s time to change the air handler filter, there’s only one to change, and it should be done every year or so. Depending on where the air handler filter is and how it’s accessed, this may be more difficult to change than return vent filters.
  • Air handler filters prevent particles found in the HVAC system airstream from being blown out and into your home.
  • Thicker filters last longer. Look for ones with MERV ratings around 12.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

If your HVAC system is older and uses return vent filters, replacing your system with one that uses a whole-home air filter in the air handler is a great way to improve system efficiency and indoor air quality.

The benefits of a whole-home air filter include:

  • Improves the operation of your HVAC unit
  • Reduces allergens and respiratory issues
  • Improves home comfort
  • Can extend the life of your system

If you want to improve your indoor air quality, consider whole-home air filters in the air handler.

Schedule HVAC Service With Hopkins Air Conditioning

The specialists at Hopkins Air Conditioning offer a broad range of HVAC services to customers in Palm Beach County. We’re a family-owned and -operated company focusing on a whole-home approach. We’ve built our solid reputation for high-quality work and service over 30 years.

Our professional, certified technicians service all brands, are licensed and insured, and have passed stringent background checks. They have the knowledge and experience to address issues ranging from ductwork to UV-based air quality solutions and everything in between.

We offer same-day service, upfront pricing, and free estimates on replacement quotes.

Schedule indoor air quality service in Palm Beach County today by calling (561) 656-4870 or contacting our team online.

company icon