Trying to select the right air filter for your Columbus home can be a daunting experience. What’s the best one? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just a few of the questions that make purchasing air filters for your home mind-boggling. Let Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma.
Here’s a tried and true way to determine how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Hold the filter horizontally, then taking standard table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter and see the amount 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 should probably upgrade your filter to higher quality filter that is 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 Columbus home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the proper measurements, or just measure it yourself. Most 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 tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to contain contaminants.
As a basic example, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget to read the filter manufacturers’ information when purchasing 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 offer better filtration efficiency, it is extremely 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 less 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 equivalent to a piece of plywood that stops ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your Columbus home. That's maximum air filtration, but would also be a terrible way to live.
Your best bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used on the advice of your Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning technician to ensure your system has the capability of moving the correct volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You normally do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family has 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 few years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. Columbus 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!