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 simple way to determine 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): Hold the filter horizontally, then using common table salt, 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 assume that the filter will let dust particles of similar size pass through. You should probably upgrade your filter to something more efficient.
Size, MERV rating and material – these are the three primary factors used to pick the proper air filter for your home.
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. 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
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 capture contaminants.
As a basic example, 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 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 extremely 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 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 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.
Your best bet 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 ensure your system has the capability of moving the proper amount 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 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 considerably over the past several years. Initially, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. the U.S. area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!
By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts With autumn around the corner, homeowners will soon be planning for the winter months ahead. Cold weather puts even more demand on your heating and cooling system. To prepare your heating system for the heavy work it will be doing, regular HVAC maintenance... Continue reading
The workplace is the main source of exposure to potentially harmful substances and pollutants – mainly air pollution, toxic chemicals and dust. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 3.2 million deaths worldwide have been attributed to airborne pollution in the past 10... Continue reading
As we enter the colder season with covid-19 still lingering here in Ontario, you must do everything you can to protect your business along with your employees and the important assets that help make your business run. Service Experts commercial HVAC has created a list to provide clients with... Continue reading
© 2023 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.