Whether you are a new homeowner or a home maintenance pro, your HVAC system is an appliance you should know how to maintain regularly for optimal efficiency. A key part of your HVAC system is the air filter. At its core, your air filter is responsible for removing impurities such as dust, pet dander, and even bacteria that can flow through the air. Improving your air quality is not only great for you and your family’s health, but also protects your HVAC system from damage.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered. Here are 4 things you need to know before purchasing your HVAC filter:
1. What type of air filter should you use?
Air filters come in a variety of shapes and materials and will provide a different type of filtration depending on your need.
Flat-Panel: This is an easy to install, disposable, and most affordable type of air filter. Fiberglass fibers are stretched over the framework and will allow many particles to get through. Quality level: Low
Pleated: Also disposable, these filters use screens of cotton or plastic fibers to filter particles from the air. Their pleats allow for more filtration and catch more debris than flat-panel filters. Quality level: Good
Electrostatic: These air filters can trap more, and smaller, particles such as pollen or bacteria. They can be flat or pleated and disposable or washable. Quality level: Good
Washable: A washable filter is reusable and comes in both flat-panel and pleated options. To remove particles simply hose down with water or use a vacuum to clean. This is an eco-friendly option that typically has a lifespan of a few years. Quality level: Good
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA): Removes 99.97% of particles in the air. These air filters are typically used in commercial buildings but can also be used in households with those suffering from allergies or a compromised immune system. Be sure to check your HVAC to make sure it is compatible with a HEPA filter before purchasing. Quality level: Great
2. What is a MERV rating?
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, this is a filter rating system devised by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to standardize and simplify filter efficiency ratings for the public. The higher the MERV rating, the higher the efficiency of the air filter. Simply stated, a MERV 13 filter will remove smaller particles from the air than a MERV 8 filter.
For you this means that you now have the ability to effectively compare one filter to another. In general, any MERV 8 or 11 air filter will perform about the same as any other MERV 8 or 11 filter. The MERV rating only applies to efficiency. If allergies or asthma are your concern, we suggest you choose a MERV 11 filter or higher.
- A MERV rating of 13 means the filter is 89-90% minimum efficient at capturing measured particles such as bacteria, tobacco smoke, and particles that make you sneeze.
- A MERV rating of 11 means the filter is 80-85% minimum efficient at capturing measured particles such as humidifier dust, lead dust, milled flour, auto emissions and other fumes.
- A MERV rating of 8 means the filter is 60% minimum efficient at capturing measured particles such as mold spores, hair spray, fabric protector, dusting aids, cement dust and pet dander.
- A MERV 4 filter rating, which we don’t sell, are typical fiberglass throw-away filters and below with just a 6% minimum efficiency at capturing the measured particles like pollen, sanding dust and larger dust particles.
3. How do I choose the right air filter for my home?
When choosing an air filter for your home, start by determining the specific needs for those living in your household. This will determine the MERV rating of the air filter that is best for your home.
Be sure to check that your HVAC system is strong enough to push air through more restrictive filters if that is your best filter option. If your HVAC system is not strong enough, it can lead to the breakdown of your system.
When you have determined the best rating range for the air filter you need, consider your budget and also the dimension of your ventilation openings. This will determine your filter size and thickness needed.
If you cannot find your filter size, we have a large selection of air filter sizes in 1", 2", 4" and 5" depths. However, if you have a filter size with dimensions that do not match any of our standard sizes, let us know and we may be able to special order your size or have custom sized air filters created to meet your needs. Please email us at the contact us page with your filter sizes and we’ll work with you to get exactly what you need for bulk orders
4. How do I maintain my air filter?
We recommend changing out your air filters every 60-90 days. The filters we sell last up to 90 days, but this time period is dependent on your environment and the type of filter you have installed. Factors such as outside air quality, pets in house, # of occupants in home, and pollen, can affect the life expectancy of your filters.
A dirty air filter will cause your HVAC system to consume more energy and increase your electricity bills. An unclean air filter is one of the main reasons why a HVAC system fails. Change your air filters regularly for your family’s health and to save on energy.