You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. What does my system require? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just two of many of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing attempt to resolve your home air filter questions and allow you to continue enjoying the comfort of your home without concern.
Here’s a simple way to tell how efficient your current 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, begin to pour the salt through the filter to see the amount comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust pass through as well. You really should upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s more efficient.
Home air filter selection depends primarily on three factors: Size, material and MERV rating.
1) Filter Size
Size is the easiest factor to ascertain. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the height by width and thickness, 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
The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some common MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget to read the filter manufacturers’ information when shopping for 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 extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also require more to operate your heating and air conditioning system. The higher the MERV, the more difficult the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your goal is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Think about it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would actually be a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your the U.S. home. That’s maximum air filtration, but would also be the least comfortable way to go.
The default choice 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 ensure your system has the capability of moving the correct quantity of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably do not want to lose energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and a high MERV rated filter is required, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past several years. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. the U.S. area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a a growing list of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!
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