Air Filters - Questions re the ones for the HVAC and seperate plug-in type air filters.

I've been using an extra air filter in my central Heating/AC system. Just inside the air return I mounted a 3 piece filter. Piece: Desc Air Flows from 3 to 1 1: Hard plastic Mesh with 1" squares. 2: Thin Black Activated Charcoal filter. 3: Green fiberglass filter.
I don't know how you tell a filter is working or not. However after a few months, I can see a large amount of "gunk" on the filter.
I was thinking of buying a IONIC BREEZE type filter. I found a small one at Wal- Mart. It plugs in like a night light and has a night light on it. After a few weeks of running this I get very little "Gunk" on the metal bars. I don't know if this is an indication of how a larger unit would work but this seems pretty worthless.
I've heard of "electrostatic" type filters that you put in your returning air space. It doesn't plug in. The moving air is suppose to generate a static field. I also remember being at a friends home when I was younger and they had an air filter (just inside the air return) that would !POP! like a bug zapper.
In addition to the 3 Piece Filter I have in the air return, I also use a pleated type filter in the , uh....normal place you would put a filter in your Heating/AC unit.. This may be over kill, but I doubt it.
Oh yeah, I also have 2 Wal-Mart upright HEPA air filters. Holmes brand. They have a switch to make ions to help clean the air. I don't know how well it works, but when I change the filters and clean the unit, I get out a lot of dust. Of course, I get the same when I blow out my computer with an air hose. Also, on both of the Holmes units, the lights that tell you when the "IONIC" function is on, and the lights telling you to change the filter are all non-working. They all quit working early in the units life.
So far, the "3 piece system" I am using seems to be the best. However, I would like to hear comments from the very knowledgeable people in this group. Any advice, suggestions comments?
Thanks Everyone RON in
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I think you have a tad bit of overkill...
I have a washable filter in my HVAC system. Simply take the hose to it once a month. I do find that the soluable oil spray for filters helps a lot.
When they have dirt you can see, they are too dirty.
I had an electrostatic filter system in a house once. More trouble than it was worth, as the grid was heavy and awkward to put in the laundry tub to clean it out.
Frequent (monthly) changing of filters is sufficient. If you don't want washable ones, just buy the disposable ones in quantity for a better price.
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Ron Cliborn wrote:

A couple of comments:
1. You may be putting too much restriction on the air flow with what you are doing. That can reduce the efficiency of the system and even damage it.
2. Those electronic type filters are a totally different type of animal. They are good at trapping very small particles that conventional filters are bad at. The ones designed to work with a HVAC system have a conventional filter in the stream before the electronic system. The stand alone ones (like the small one you tested) have two drawbacks; they move very little air so they are very slow at doing any cleaning and they create ozone.
I love the commercials that tell you about "OzoneGard." which is O, to oxygen which while normally is O can also exist as O. Ozone is a form of oxygen. The commercials are full of exaggerations and lies.
Now as to the question. What do you hope to accomplish with the filters? Please don't say clean air. Please be more specific.
--
Joseph Meehan

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Ron Cliborn wrote:

Sounds like over kill. It may impede proper air flow. I have an EAC on return air duct(it has one washable metal mesh filter). That's all. Inside my house is clean. I wash filter and EAC cells 3 times a year. Spring , summer, fall.
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