Trying to select the right air filter for your the U.S. home can be a daunting experience. Which brand is best? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just some of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
Here’s an easy way to determine how efficient your existing filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Position the filter horizontally, then taking common table salt, pour the salt through the filter and see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust particles of similar size pass through. You really should upgrade your filter to something more efficient.
There are 3 primary considerations when choosing a household air filter; Size, Material and MERV rating.
1) Filter Size
Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the dimensions, or just measure it yourself. The majority of home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a numerous standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
MERV ratings are the efficiencies of the filter on a scale of 16. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number identifies for the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants.
As a basic example, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so make sure you read the filter manufacturers’ information when purchasing specific filters.
Rating Average Filtration Efficiency
MERV 1-4 60-80%
Fiberglass, Disposable Panel, Washable metal/synthetic, self-charging (Passive)
MERV 5-8 80-95%
Pleated, Media panel, Cube
MERV 9-12 >95%
MERV 13-16 >98%
Be Careful About High MERV Ratings
While a higher MERV number may offer better filtration efficiency, it is very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also require more to operate your HVAC system. The higher the MERV, the more restricted the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your objective should be to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Look at it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would actually be a piece of plywood that stops ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your the U.S. home. That’s all-out air filtration, but would also be the least comfortable way to go.
A safe bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used based upon the advice of your Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing service advisor to verify your system has the capability of moving the correct amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You normally do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and needs a high MERV air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed considerably over the past few years. Early on, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. the U.S. area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!
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