Written by: Your Filter Connection
A well maintained HVAC unit is key to maintaining excellent air quality in the home. It may not affect everyone, but those with allergies will benefit highly from air filters that trap harmful particulates. In addition to seasonal tune ups, it’s necessary to periodically replace the home air filters. A dirty air filter often reduces the efficacy of the HVAC system, ultimately decreasing the lifespan of your unit. An air filter is composed of various fibrous materials and serves the purpose of removing pollutants and purifying the air within a controlled environment, such as a home or business. Discerning which of these materials is right for you requires some understanding of what this terminology means.
Basic Materials Used
Some of the most common fibrous materials air filters are manufactured from are pleated paper, woven cotton, or spun fiberglass. Pleated air filters are usually rated higher in terms of reducing the amount of breathable particles in the air than their flat counterparts. Woven fabrics in an electrostatic furnace filter may contain charges that attract particles of the opposite charge, offering a better trap for microscopic particles others don’t catch.
MERV Ratings and Their Meanings
Another important component to consider when purchasing a replacement air filter is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) for that replacement unit.
The MERV rating for air filters ranges from 1 to 20, but between 7 and 14 is usually sufficient for your home. That puts particle removal at almost 80% on the high end. If we look at the replacement Honeywell air filter, for example, the MERV rating of 12 indicates that it can reliably remove up to 75 percent of dust and particulates. There are always a small percentage of particles that remain, but keeping systems dust free is crucial to keeping HVAC systems running long term.
Filters with high ratings are optimal for removing allergens such as pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and smog. Furthermore, filters with a MERV rating above 8 will trap dust mites and reduce odors within the home. While there are a large variety of air filters to choose from, keep in mind what your intended use is. Pleated filters may offer a better trap for dust, but charged fibers trap bacteria and microscopic particles that cause respiratory problems. Whatever your choice, review the MERV rating of the filter to give some indication of the performance level you can expect from the filter.