Choosing the Right Air Filter for Your Home
With all the different types of air filters available for homeowners to purchase, it can get confusing trying to decide which one is right for your home. Filters are rated on a scale called MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). This scale shows how effective the filter is at capturing contaminants at their worst conditions. The higher the MERV, the stronger the filtration is. Here are the main types of filters that you should consider buying:
Fiberglass and Synthetic Filters:
These are the most common and least expensive option for home air filters. They are disposable and rather effective, as they don’t have much of an effect on the efficiency of the HVAC system. The remove most large particles from the air including dust. They are fine enough for most people, but they may not remove enough particles for people with severe allergies or asthma. These filters are rated between 1 and 4 on the MERV scale.
Pleated filters can either be disposable or reusable. Reusable filters can be washed with water, but if they are not completely dry when reinstalled, they can grow hazardous mold and mildew. These filters force the HVAC system to work harder because the pleats make it more strenuous for air to pass through. They remove more particles from the air than fiberglass and synthetic filters, but they are more expensive. These filters are rated between 5 and 10 on the MERV scale depending on how dense the pleats are.
Like the pleated filter, electrostatic filters can be either disposable or reusable. These filters use static electricity to remove small particles from the air, making them more efficient and capturing allergens and lung irritants than the fiberglass, synthetic, and pleated filters. These filters have the greatest adverse effect on the efficiency of the HVAC system. These filters are rated around 10 or 11 on the MERV scale.
HEPA filters, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters are some of the most effective and expensive filters out there. They remove the smallest particles from the air. Unfortunately, many HEPA filters are too large to fit on HVAC systems, so they may require their own separate system to filter air, making the cost of HEPA filter systems even more expensive. These filters are useful for people with severe asthma and other lung diseases that are triggered by dust and debris. These filters have a MERV rating between 17 and 20.
The truth is that many people do not need ridiculously high levels of filtration in their homes. For most people, fiberglass, synthetic, and pleated filters are plenty strong enough. It’s important to be conscious of the filters you are purchasing and when you install them. Check your filters once a month and replace them according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Mark in your calendar when to check your filter and when to replace your filter to ensure that your filter and HVAC system are working as efficiently as possible.