Quite simply, not all air filters for residential heating and cooling systems are created equal. Some are only designed to filter out large particles such as pet hair, and others are so fine that they can be used to create a “clean room” environment. Ideally, you could clean your indoor air by opening all your windows and doors, but this is unrealistic on a daily basis and also doesn’t account for pollutants in the outside air. Instead, choose a type and size of air filter for your home that will keep you and your family breathing comfortably.
In order to gauge the effectiveness of an air filter, check its MERV rating. The scale for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value scale ranges from 1-20 for air filters. MERV 1-4 is cheap and inexpensive, the flat-panel fiberglass filters that you can pick up for a couple dollars at the grocery store. These are primarily intended to protect your HVAC system from airborne dirt and debris. They do next to nothing when it comes to improving indoor air quality. As the MERV numbers rise, they get better at removing smaller airborne particulates.
For air filtration to protect your equipment and improve air quality, go for a pleated air filter with more surface area to capture particles. MERV 7-12 air filters offer a happy medium between maintaining system airflow and improving air quality, and will work almost as effectively as a MERV 17-20 HEPA filter for health-related issues. The highest-quality filters, from MERV 14 to 20, including true HEPA filters, will not work in most residential forced-air systems without system modifications to accommodate the greater resistance to airflow. An HVAC tech needs to evaluate your system to ensure that it can handle the increased air resistance before completing the installation.
Stack Heating & Cooling has been a leader in HVAC service for the Greater Cleveland area since 1976. If you would like an evaluation of your home to install a higher quality air filter, please contact us today.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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