Air Filters: Fiberglass vs Pleated

Learn the difference between these two types of air filters and which one's right for you

Homeowners don’t always know where to start when it’s time to change their air filter. Because there are several types available at most stores, it’s easy to base one’s buying decision just on price alone. However, while the cheapest fiberglass filter might seem like a smart idea for your budget, it may not always be the best choice for your home, your HVAC system or your family’s health.

Fiberglass vs Pleated air filters
  • Here’s a quick guide on two common varieties:

  • Fiberglass - Fiberglass filters are generally inexpensive, like sometimes around $1. They are good for catching larger debris in the air, like lint and dust, and they work great for airflow for just about any system. But on the down side, they also aren’t recommended for homes where people have allergies. They also need to be changed regularly, like at least monthly. And, because they don’t have a lot of surface area and don’t filter smaller items out, they eventually can cause build-up and weaken your HVAC system, decrease its efficiency and can lead to higher energy costs. Worse, in some cases, an especially flimsy fiberglass filter can come apart in your system, causing serious damage as well as putting any filtered products back into the air.

  • Pleated - Pleated filters may cost a little more, like -$15, but are a good example of getting what you pay for. They’re made from higher quality materials, and absorb a significant amount of dust, dirt and allergens, especially smaller sized particulates like pollen, pet dander and bacteria. They have other advantages as well. They’re recyclable and only need to be changed about every 90 days. They also hold onto any filtered material well when you’re replacing them. Generally, pleated filters are recommended for those with allergies or related sensitivities and those interested in air quality.