Air Filters: Which MERV Is Best for Your Home?
Changing your furnace’s air filter is a vital part of home maintenance. Your air filter impacts the quality of air in your home, which can also affect the health of your family. A clean air filter will save you money, as well, and lower the amount of energy your heating and cooling system consumes.
You have a variety of choices when it comes to shopping for air filters. Many filters seem very similar, and you might wonder if it matters which one you select. Will they truly improve your air quality? Part of the answer to this question is in the MERV rating on the filters. Air filters function by capturing particles such as dust, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, and the like on filter media. Different filter media types catch differently sized particles. The minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, of a filter indicates what size of particulate matter a filter traps. Flat, or panel, air filters usually have a MERV of 1 to 4.
These filters are the most common in home furnaces, and you can buy them for a few bucks at the super market or home improvement store. They don’t capture smaller particles, and are mostly used to protect your system from the buildup of unwanted sediment. They aren’t designed to filter allergens or molds. Pleated, or extended surface, filters are more efficient with everything from small to large airborne particles. These have a MERV rating of between 5 and 13, and can trap mold, dust mites and other aggravating particulates.
By and large, a filter with a MERV rating of between 7 and 13 is nearly as efficient as a true HEPA filter, and are far less expensive. Not all HVAC systems can handle filters in the higher ranges of MERV, however. This is because the more efficiently the filter captures smaller particles, the more likely it also will impede system airflow. It’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s specifications before upgrading your filter, or contact an HVAC professional.
For answers to all your heating and cooling questions, or more information about air filters, please contact Sobieski Services. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems).
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