Trying to select the right air filter for your Oakville home can be a daunting experience. Which brand is best? Should you just get the cheapest? These are just some of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Abbey Air Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
Here’s a tried and true way to figure out 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 with common table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter to see how much 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 that same size flow through. You might want to upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s more efficient.
Home air filter selection depends primarily on three factors: Size, material and MERV rating.
1) Filter Size
Size is the easiest factor to ascertain. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the height by width and thickness, 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 hold contaminants.
To help explain the scale of this system, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure 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 ensure better filtration efficiency, it is extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also require more to operate your heating and air conditioning system. The higher the MERV, the more difficult the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your goal is to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.
Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would actually be a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your Oakville home. That's maximum air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
Your best bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used based upon the advice of your Abbey Air Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning technician to confirm your system has the capability of moving the correct amount of air through higher efficiency filters. You normally do not want to lose energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and needs a high MERV air filter, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will achieve your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed greatly over the past ten years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Oakville area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!