Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. What does my system require? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just two of many of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Calverley Service Experts try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s an easy way to figure out 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 standard table salt, start pouring 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 assume that the filter will let dust that same size flow through. You should probably upgrade your filter to higher quality filter that is more efficient.
Home air filter selection depends primarily on three factors: 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 proper measurements, or just measure it yourself. Typically 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
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 hold contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some common MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget to read the filter manufacturers’ information when shopping for 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 take more to operate your furnace and AC system. The higher the MERV, the less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your objective should be 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 prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your Fort Worth home. That's all-out air filtration, but would also be a terrible way to live.
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 Calverley Service Experts representative to verify your system has the capability of moving the correct quantity 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 the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will meet your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past ten years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Fort Worth area homeowners expect their air filter to save kids from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!