Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. What’s the best one? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just a couple of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let TML Service Experts crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
Here’s a simple way to tell how efficient your current 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 with standard table salt, begin to pour 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 imagine that the filter will let dust particles of similar size pass through. You might want to 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
Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Boise 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 numerous 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 tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to contain contaminants.
As a basic example, these are some typical 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 ensure better filtration efficiency, it is critical 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 more restricted 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.
Look at 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 Boise home. That's maximum 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 TML Service Experts representative to ensure your system has the capability of moving the suitable amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You normally do not want to lose energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family deals with allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed considerably over the past several years. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. Boise area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!