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Choosing the Right Air Filter For Your Grand Island Home

Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. What does my system require? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just two of many of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.

Here’s a simple way to determine 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 taking everyday table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter to see the amount 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 that same size flow through. You might want to upgrade your filter to something 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 the U.S. 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 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.

As a basic example, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they relate 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%
Extended pleated

MERV 13-16 >98%
Electronic

Be Careful About High MERV Ratings

While a higher MERV number may provide better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your HVAC 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.

Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would equivalent to a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your the U.S. 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing technician to ensure your system has the capability of moving the proper volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated 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. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. the U.S. area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!

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