Do Pleated Air Filters Restrict Airflow?

November 05 2018

If you’re trying to choose the right air filter, you might come across finding yourself asking whether pleated air filters restrict airflow to your HVAC system.

Simply? Yes, pleated air filters will restrict your indoor airflow, but only to an extent which is to be expected from the conditions of the filter itself. Now, a lot of people will hear that pleated air filters cause airflow restriction, and they automatically think that this is a bad thing so the filters aren’t right for what they’re looking for. This is not at all the case – it’s common for filters to restrict the movement of your property’s air to some extent, and it’s completely fine as long as you’ve chosen a filter that’s going to accurately suit your needs.

There are many types of filters – such as media filters and HEPA filters, and all are suited to different circumstances. However, in this case, we’re going to focus on the one type of filter that is continuously brought up and questioned – the pleated fiberglass filter.

At the end of the day, the short answer is: yes, pleated air filters do restrict the air flow to your furnace. Though, this is the case with any furnace filter that removes pollutants and dust from the atmosphere within your property as it’s continuously going to be filtering the air. In turn, this means that any filter is somewhat going to be preventing the free movement of that air.

  Honeywell replacement furnace filter                        

Honeywell replacement furnace filter


Different pleated air filters are designed with different properties and outcomes in mind, which is important to remember when you’re buying your own filter. You don’t want to buy an industrial pleated filter and install it into your home, as that’ll result in your system being overloaded and eventually breaking down. Pleated air filters are great, and they’re incredibly common air solution choices, you just need to know which one is right for you.


Are Pleated Air Filters Worth It?

Or, alternatively, you could ask; is this the right type of pleated air filter for your unit? Pleated air filters are incredibly common and they’re a great choice, but you need to choose the right one if you want to maximize the efficiency of your system. As was mentioned earlier, there are different types of pleated air filters that are designed to remove various types of chemicals, toxins, pollutants, and debris from the atmosphere, and so some are a lot stronger than others.

You don’t want to spend time and money choosing an air filter only to find out that you bought one that’s not going to do the job that you ideally want your filter to achieve.

Even though pleated fiberglass filters are very common and are continuously highly recommended, there’s still a misconception around the filters being able to cause damage to your unit because they supposedly restrict air flow.

Yes, pleated air filters do indeed restrict the airflow to your HVAC system. However, you need to keep in mind that all air filters will restrict air flow to some extent – it’s a given. What you want to be concerned about is just finding the right filter for your unit and your overall system to ensure that you’re reducing the amount of pollutants in the air as much as possible.          

Putting a HEPA filter designed for a hospital into a residential home unit isn’t going to be at all efficient in cleaning the atmosphere. Therefore, doing your research, knowing your filters, and knowing what you’re looking for in a filter is always vitally important.


Why Do They Restrict Airflow?

The answer is pretty simple and straight forward: they restrict the airflow as a result of doing their job effectively filtering the pollutants from your air. All filters will restrict the air flow to some extent because, in every case, the air has to move through the filter for the unit to be able to remove the particles in the atmosphere.

The higher the MERV rating, the denser the filter is going to be, and so the more restricted air flow will become. This won’t be an issue if you have the right filter for your unit, as your unit will have the power to keep the air moving and pushing through the dense material of the filter. Though, if you install a pleated air filter that is too dense for your unit, the whole operation is going to be a lot less efficient and could result in damage to your system.


Before You Buy

Ask yourself what you’re looking to get out of installing a filter in your home. What’s your main goal or aim? Are you particularly bothered by pet hair and pollen, or is the dust what gets to you? A pleated air filter is a great choice no matter what your aim may be, but you need to know what you want to achieve and what you want to filter out of your atmosphere to be able to select the right type of pleated filter.

There are also alternative filters, such as media filters and HEPA filters, but, once again, these are all designed for different types of filtration. If you’re looking for a standard home filter, pleated air filters are an excellent choice – you just need to select the right one for your needs.


When you’re considering what type of air filter to install in your home, make sure you do your research and know what you’re really looking for, else you could end up buying one that’s going to cause more of a hassle down the line.


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