You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. What’s the best one? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just a few of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning attempt to resolve your home air filter questions and allow you to continue enjoying the comfort of your home without concern.
Here’s a tried and true way to figure out 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 everyday table salt, begin to 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 should probably upgrade your filter to something 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 proper measurements, or just measure it yourself. Most home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a variety of 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 informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants.
To help explain the scale of this system, these are some common MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure 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 provide better filtration efficiency, it is critical 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 less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your aim 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 prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your Medina home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
A safe bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used on the advice of your Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning representative to ensure your system has the capability of moving the correct amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family deals with allergies or respiratory problems and a high MERV rated filter is required, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will meet your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past few years. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Medina area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!