You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. What’s the best one? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just a few of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Church Services try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s an easy way to determine 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 taking standard table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter then see the amount 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 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
Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Houston home is important. 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
MERV ratings are the efficiencies of the filter on a scale of 16. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants.
As a basic example, these are some common MERV ratings and how they correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure to 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 offer better filtration efficiency, it is very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you 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.
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 coming inside your Houston home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be the least comfortable way to go.
A safe bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used based upon the advice of your Church Services technician to verify your system has the capability of moving the correct volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to give up 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 achieve your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed considerably over the past ten years. Initially, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Houston area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a a growing list of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!