Trying to select the right air filter for your Longmont home can be a daunting experience. What does my system require? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just a few of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s an easy way to figure out how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Set the filter horizontally, then with standard table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter and see how much 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 particles of similar size pass through. You might want to upgrade your filter to something 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
Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Longmont home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the dimensions, or just measure it yourself. Most home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a numerous standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to contain contaminants.
To help explain the scale of this system, these are some usual MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget to read the filter manufacturers’ information when shopping for 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 provide better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also take 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.
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 getting into your Longmont home. That's all-out air filtration, but would also be the least comfortable way to go.
Your best bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used based upon the advice of your Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning service advisor to verify your system has the capability of moving the suitable quantity of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably 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 significantly over the past several years. Early on, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Longmont 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!