Answer to the paper vs. fiberglass debate on AC filters

Here in Arizona, we don’t have much of a choice on whether or not to have some type of cooling system in our homes.

The stifling summer temps create a dependency on our air conditioners to keep us comfortable. Therefore, we must stay up to date on maintenance in order to keep each unit’s performance at its peak. Here is a question about air filters. Fiberglass Insect Screen Mesh

Answer to the paper vs. fiberglass debate on AC filters

Question from Anne: Which air filters are best, paper or fiberglass? The person who installed my air conditioner said to only use the cheapie filters because the papers ones don't allow airflow. I've used both and find that my air conditioner is cleaner when using the paper filters but then my air conditoner doesn't work as well. With the cheapie filters, my air conditioner doesn't stay as clean but it’s much colder in my house. What brands give you the best of both?

Answer: I turned this one over to Rosie Romero, Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert (and host of “Rosie on the House”). Here’s how he answers:

“Generally speaking we want everyone using the paper pleated filters, and changing them once a month during summer months and every 60 days in winter.

“The clean paper filter should not negatively impact your unit’s performance, but they are such good filters, that once they get dirty (and they get dirtier quicker than the cheapo fiberglass ones), that will cause a deterioration of performance.

“The only time we say use those fiberglass filters is if, when your unit turns on, the paper pleated filters cause an air whistling noise, which is the sound of your unit suffocating. The root problem here is invariably poor duct design, and that can be expensive to correct.”

Answer to the paper vs. fiberglass debate on AC filters

Mesh Screen For Projection Do you have a question that you just can't get answered? Use the vast expertise of journalists at Republic Media to get to the bottom of it. As your guide, Andrea Hiland navigates the newsroom of and The Arizona Republic to find answers to what's puzzling you. From the serious to the silly, the controversial to the trivial, she will tackle the issues, big and small. E-mail your question to