You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. Which brand is best? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just a couple 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 an easy way to tell how efficient your existing filter is (NOTE: Do this outdoors or with something below the filter so you don’t end up with a mess): Set the filter horizontally, then using common table salt, start pouring 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 particles of similar size pass through. You should probably 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
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 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 provide better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also take 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.
Look at it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would equivalent to a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your Shreveport home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
Your best bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used subject to the advice of your Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning service advisor to confirm your system has the capability of moving the suitable volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You normally do not want to lose 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 satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed greatly over the past several years. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Shreveport area homeowners expect their air filter to save kids from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!