You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. Which brand is best? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just two of many of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let A-PLUS Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
Here’s a tried and true way to determine how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: Do this outdoors or with something below the filter so you don’t end up with a mess): Hold the filter horizontally, then using everyday table salt, 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 that same size flow through. You might want to 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
Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Waldorf home is important. 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 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 identifies for the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to trap contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some usual MERV ratings and how they correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so make sure you 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 offer better filtration efficiency, it is very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your HVAC system. The higher the MERV, the less 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 getting into your Waldorf home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be a terrible way to live.
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 A-PLUS Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning representative to confirm your system has the capability of moving the suitable volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably 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 meet your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed considerably over the past ten years. Initially, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Waldorf area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!