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? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just some of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let D.A. Bennett 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 simple way to figure out how efficient your existing filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Hold the filter horizontally, then using common table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter and see how much 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 really should 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
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 height by width and thickness, 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
MERV ratings are the efficiencies of the filter on a scale of 16. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number tells 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 correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure to read the filter manufacturers’ information when buying 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 extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also take 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 aim is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Look at it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would equivalent to a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your Albany home. That's all-out air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
The default choice for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used subject to the advice of your D.A. Bennett Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning technician to verify your system has the capability of moving the correct volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family has allergies or respiratory problems and a high MERV rated filter is required, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will achieve your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed considerably over the past few years. Initially, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. Albany 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!