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 two of many of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Midway Services crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
Here’s an easy way to tell how efficient your old 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 with common table salt, pour the salt through the filter to see the quantity that 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 that same size flow through. You really should upgrade your filter to higher quality filter that is 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
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. 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
Filter efficiencies are given a number from 1-16 called the MERV rating. 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 capture contaminants.
As a basic example, these are some common MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so make sure you 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 ensure 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 probably be a piece of plywood that stops ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your Clearwater 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 based upon the advice of your Midway Services technician to verify your system has the capability of moving the suitable amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family has allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will achieve your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past ten years. Early on, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Clearwater area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!