April 8, 2024
How to Choose the Right Air Filters for Your HVAC System

An air filter is crucial to protect your HVAC system and your health. However, filters differ in their strength. Their effectiveness is measured by the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). Your particular HVAC system, the makeup of your household, and environmental conditions are all factors when choosing the right filter.

Why Are Air Filters Important?

An air filter is designed to trap particles in the air before they enter your HVAC system. In turn, it reduces the number of particulates in the air you breathe. Not having a filter can be detrimental to your HVAC system’s effectiveness, efficiency, and longevity. It can also harm your health.

When dirt and dust build up on the internal moving parts of your HVAC system, they can cause extra wear and tear. This could lead to various parts wearing down prematurely, so you have to replace the whole system. These particles can also settle on the heat exchanger or evaporator coils. In either case, the dirt and dust affect the ability of these parts to transfer heat. That means your HVAC system won’t be as effective and will need to run for longer periods, increasing your monthly bills.

MERV Ratings and What They Mean

As mentioned, the MERV rating indicates how effective a filter will be at trapping the particles in the air. It notes the smallest size particle it can trap and what percentage of each size of particle it will catch. A higher MERV rating means that it can trap more and smaller particles.

How to Choose the Right Air Filter

The typical range of MERV ratings for residential air filters is between 6 and 13. If your air filter has a MERV rating that is too high for your system, it could restrict airflow. Always be sure to consult one of our technicians or follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

MERV 6–7

A MERV 6 may be sufficient if no one in the home has any type of allergy or respiratory issue. These inexpensive fiberglass models will trap most dirt, dust, lint, and some allergens. They won’t be able to catch smaller particles like dust mites, mold, or smoke.

MERV 8–10

If you’re concerned about mold spores, you’ll want at least a MERV 8 air filter. In addition to trapping everything a MERV 6 can, it can catch most dust mites and mold spores. It catches 70% of particles measuring 3.0–10.0 microns, including most pollens.

MERV 11–13

These are the premium air filters for homes. They can catch pet dander and finer dust. If anyone in your household has health issues, you’ll want to choose a filter rated MERV 11 to 13.

Be Sure to Change the Filter!

Even the best air filter won’t do any good if you never change it. As dust, allergens, and other particles build up in the filter, they restrict airflow. That’s not good for your HVAC system because it has to work harder to pull air through. You might notice the system running longer or some areas in your home staying too warm or too cold. You might also notice reduced airflow from the registers.

With a clogged air filter, more particulates will be in the air exiting the system. Signs a new filter is overdue include dust around the registers or intake vent. Check the filter monthly. If it’s visibly dirty, or you can’t see light through it, it’s time to toss it.

It’s generally suggested to change your air filter every two to three months. Still, you’ll want to check the manufacturer’s recommendation. Having pets in the home or living in a dry or dusty area can make the filter clog faster. Also, if household members have asthma, allergies, or other respiratory issues, err on the side of cautionand check the filter every few weeks.

Turbo Charge Your Air Filtration

Most home HVAC systems can only handle up to a MERV 13 air filter before they have airflow issues. A HEPA filter is equivalent to a MERV 17. If you want the cleanest and healthiest air, we can install an air purification system in your HVAC system. These systems can trap the smallest particles, including bacteria and viruses.

Your Trusted HVAC Specialist

At O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning, we serve residents of Drexel Hill, PA and the surrounding area so they can stay cool and comfortable. We’re committed to our community. You can rely on us for all your home heating and cooling needs, including installation, repair, and maintenance. We install air purification systems and can help with your water heater. Commercial HVAC systems are another speciality.

Call us at O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning when you’re ready to have a cleaner, healthier home with our air quality solutions.

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