Trying to select the right air filter for your Grand Island home can be a daunting experience. Which brand is best? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just some of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let McElroy Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s a tried and true way to tell how efficient your existing filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Set the filter horizontally, then with common 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 assume that the filter will let dust pass through as well. You really should upgrade your filter to something more efficient.
There are 3 primary considerations when choosing a household air filter; Size, Material and MERV rating.
1) Filter Size
Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. 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 number of 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 informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to capture contaminants.
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some common MERV ratings and how they correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget 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 very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also take 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 aim 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 probably be a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your Grand Island home. That's all-out 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 on the advice of your McElroy Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning representative to ensure your system has the capability of moving the proper quantity 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 suffers from 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 greatly over the past few years. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. Grand Island area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!