Which Air Filter Is Best For My Home?

Which Air Filter Is Best For My Home?

Have you been asking yourself ‘Which air filter is best for my home?’ going into the winter months? Choosing air filters for your home’s HVAC system can be a daunting task. There is an abundance of information out on the internet, but, as a certified air flow technician in the HVAC industry, I’m here to set the record straight.

The wrong air filter can be the number one problem for your home’s heating and cooling system. They directly affect your home’s heating and cooling capacity, system efficiency, power and gas bills, your comfort and – of course – your indoor air quality. The wrong type of filter can also shorten the operating life of your HVAC equipment, cause premature failures and breakdowns. And cause $1,000’s in damage. Wow! Didn’t know there was that much to it, did you?

The big box stores try to educate you on what type of air filter to choose based on MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the MERV rating the more dust, dirt and particles the filter collects, keeping them from recirculating in your home.

That’s a good thing, right? Not so fast!

It all depends on the thickness of said air filter, how the filter is installed in your home’s air distribution system and the location of it in conjunction with your HVAC system. Why? Airflow!

You see, your HVAC system’s key to maximum performance is AIRFLOW. Airflow is responsible for increasing efficiency, capacity and comfort while extending your equipment’s operating life and preventing breakdowns. Without proper airflow through your system’s air filter, you will begin to cause all kinds of problems, basically doing exactly what you DON’T want to do.

MERV Ratings

For example, take higher 1” MERV rating filters. Sometimes, they do a great job of stopping dust and dirt. But, they simultaneously stop the airflow, or drastically reduce it. This airflow reduction causes capacity and efficiency loss, making your system run longer and work harder. Have you ever had a service call on your air conditioner in the summer time because it was “frozen”? A technician most likely came out, pulled out your air filter within 5 minutes of arriving and told you that the filter was the problem. What did you do? You run out to big box store, buy a bunch of filters that say they last 3 months and feel like you solved your problem. You could have had an immediate fix with the correct filter, but, instead caused lifelong problems with the incorrect filters, which result in higher energy bills and shorten the life of your system.

HVAC Airflow

As I said, airflow is the key to the efficiency of a home’s HVAC system. 1” high MERV rated filters are the worst for your home’s system. It’s a fact and it can be proven quite easily with some proper testing. Imagine your system’s fan as the heart of your HVAC system and you put a major restriction in the artery. What would that do to the blood pressure? The wrong filter can double, or even triple what your equipment is rated for. If your blood pressure was double what it should be, where would you be right now? Enough said.

So what’s the answer? Which air filter should you choose?

Should you buy the cheap filters that you can see through to maximize air flow? No. They won’t stop any dirt. The correct answer is to have a certified technician test your systems airflow, or “blood pressure”, evaluate your home’s air flow and air ducting system and determine how to properly install a high efficiency air filter that will be sized properly for your specific heating and or cooling system. They will then make the proper recommendations on which filter to use.

I believe indoor air quality is one of the most important things in your home. I have a daughter who took breathing treatments when she was small. I used my experience to design an indoor air quality system that would not only reduce 99.9% of all air pollutants, kills germs and viruses, but also maintain the airflow and protect my home’s heating and cooling system.

I am sorry that there’s no easy one size fits all for answer for which air filter to choose, but the answer is definitely not to just go pick up a bunch of filters at the big box store. This can cause more problems than you bargained for, especially when you thought you were doing the right thing.

How To Choose Which Air Filter Is Best For My Home

The best option is to start with a proper system capacity, efficiency, safety and airflow test by a certified HVAC technician. This will determine the best filtration and indoor air quality solution and how to properly install it. If your HVAC company is not testing airflow during your maintenance appointments and also educating you on airflow, you should find one that does. After all, why do you have maintenance on your home’s heating and cooling system to start with?

HVAC maintenance has numerous benefits, including:

  • Prevent break downs
  • Save time
  • Prolong the life of your system
  • Save money and energy
  • Improve the health of your family
  • For peace of mind

Set Up HVAC Maintenance To Find Out Which Air Filter Is Best For Your Home

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