Choosing The Right Air Filter For Your Alliance 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? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just some of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.

Here’s an easy way to determine how efficient your current 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 with everyday table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter then see how much 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 particles of similar size pass through. You really should upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s more efficient.

There are 3 primary considerations when choosing a household air filter; Size, Material and MERV rating.

1) Filter Size

Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Alliance home is important. 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 numerous 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 contain contaminants.

To help explain the scale of this system, 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 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%
Extended pleated

MERV 13-16 >98%
Electronic

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 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 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 actually be a piece of plywood that stops ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your Alliance 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 subject to the advice of your Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning technician to ensure your system has the capability of moving the proper 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 considerably over the past ten years. Early on, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. Alliance area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a a growing list of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!