You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. Which brand is best? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just a few of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let San Antonio Air Service Experts try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s a tried and true way to figure out how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Set the filter horizontally, then using everyday table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter and 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 should probably upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s 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 proper measurements, 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 tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to trap contaminants.
As a basic example, these are some usual MERV ratings and how they connect 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 offer better filtration efficiency, it is critical to understand that too high a MERV filter may also take more to operate your heating and air conditioning 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.
Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would probably be a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your San Antonio home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
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 San Antonio Air Service Experts representative to verify your system has the capability of moving the suitable amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family has allergies or respiratory problems and a high MERV rated filter is required, 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. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. San Antonio area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!