Choosing the Right Air Filter For Your Atlanta Home

Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. What does my system require? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just two of many of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning try to help you de-mystify the air filter dilemma. 
 
Here’s a tried and true way to figure out how efficient your existing filter is (NOTE: To avoid a big mess, we highly recommend conducting this test outside or over a protected surface): Position the filter horizontally, then using standard 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 particles of similar size pass through. You should probably upgrade your filter to something more efficient. 
 
Size, MERV rating and material – these are the three primary factors used to pick the proper air filter for your home. 

1) Filter Size 

Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Philadelphia home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the proper measurements, or just measure it yourself. The majority of home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a variety of standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters. 

2) Material & MERV Rating 

The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number informs the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants. 
 
To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, 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 shopping for 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% 
Extended pleated 
 
MERV 13-16 >98% 
Electronic 

Be Careful About High MERV Ratings 

While a higher MERV number may provide better filtration efficiency, it is very 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 less 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. 
 
Look at it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would equivalent to a piece of plywood that stops ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your Philadelphia home. That’s maximum air filtration, but would also be a terrible way to live. 
 
A safe bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used subject to the advice of your Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning technician to ensure your system has the capability of moving the proper volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family has allergies or respiratory problems and a high MERV rated filter is required, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will meet your energy and filter efficiency needs. 
 
Filtration has changed considerably over the past few years. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. Philadelphia area homeowners expect their air filter to save loved ones from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream! 

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