Choosing the Right Air Filter For Your San Antonio Home

Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. Which brand is best? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just a couple of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.

Here’s a simple way to tell how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Hold the filter horizontally, then taking common table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter then see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust that same size flow through. You should probably upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s 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. 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 trap 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 very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your heating and air conditioning system. The higher the MERV, the more difficult 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.

Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would probably be a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside 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 representative to verify your system has the capability of moving the suitable volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You normally do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family deals with allergies or respiratory problems and needs a high MERV air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will meet your energy and filter efficiency needs.

Filtration has changed considerably over the past ten years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. 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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