Choosing the Right Air Filter For Your Boise Home

Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. What does my system require? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just a few of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing attempt to resolve your home air filter questions and allow you to continue enjoying the comfort of your home without concern.

Here’s a simple way to figure out how efficient your existing filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Position the filter horizontally, then using common table salt, pour the salt through the filter to see how much 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 something 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

Size is the easiest factor to ascertain. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the proper measurements, or just measure it yourself. The majority of 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 trap contaminants.

As a basic example, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they relate to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget 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 very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also require 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 aim is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.

Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would equivalent to a piece of plywood that stops ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your the U.S. home. That’s definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be the least comfortable way to go.

The default choice 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 & Plumbing service advisor to confirm your system has the capability of moving the correct amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family has allergies or respiratory problems and needs a high MERV air filter, 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. 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. the U.S. 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!

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