Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. What’s the best one? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just a few of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Broad Ripple Service Experts try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s an easy way to tell how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: Do this outdoors or with something below the filter so you don’t end up with a mess): Position the filter horizontally, then taking everyday table salt, begin to 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 know that the filter will let dust pass through as well. You might want to 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 Indianapolis home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the dimensions, 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 hold contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some usual 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 extremely 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 less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your goal is 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 prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your Indianapolis home. That's maximum air filtration, but would also be a terrible way to live.
A safe bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used subject to the advice of your Broad Ripple Service Experts technician 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 a high MERV rated filter is required, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past several years. Originally, 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. Indianapolis area homeowners expect their air filter to save kids from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!