Choosing The Right Air Filter For Your Houston Home

February 06, 2015

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? Does the price reflect the quality? 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 tell how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Set the filter horizontally, then taking standard table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter and 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 particles of similar size pass 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

Filter efficiencies are given a number from 1-16 called the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number informs 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 common MERV ratings and how they relate 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%
Extended pleated

MERV 13-16 >98%
Electronic

Be Careful About High MERV Ratings

While a higher MERV number may offer better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you 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 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 equivalent to a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from entering 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 amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You normally do not want to sacrifice 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 achieve your energy and filter efficiency needs.

Filtration has changed greatly over the past few years. Initially, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard 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!