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? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just a couple of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s a tried and true way to tell how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Set the filter horizontally, then taking common table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter then see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you can imagine that the filter will let dust pass through as well. You should probably upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s more efficient.
There are 3 primary considerations when choosing a household air filter; 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 dimensions, or just measure it yourself. Typically home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a number of 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 tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to contain contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some usual MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure to 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 critical to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your furnace and AC 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 goal is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would equivalent to a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your the U.S. home. That’s all-out 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 representative to confirm your system has the capability of moving the correct quantity 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 has allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past few years. Initially, 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 loved ones from a a growing list of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!
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