Just go to any home improvement store and the choice of home air filters can be dizzying. What’s the best one? Is the more expensive products worth the investment? These are just a couple of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Winnipeg Supply Service Experts attempt to resolve your home air filter questions and allow you to continue enjoying the comfort of your home without concern.
Here’s a tried and true way to figure out how efficient your old filter is (NOTE: Do this outdoors or with something below the filter so you don’t end up with a mess): Hold the filter horizontally, then taking everyday table salt, 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 imagine that the filter will let dust that same size flow through. You should probably 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
Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Winnipeg home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the proper measurements, or just measure it yourself. Typically 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
The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. 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 explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some common MERV ratings and how they correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget 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%
MERV 13-16 >98%
Be Careful About High MERV Ratings
While a higher MERV number may offer 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 less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your aim 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 prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from getting into your Winnipeg home. That's definitely the “best” 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 Winnipeg Supply Service Experts technician to verify your system has the capability of moving the correct volume of air through higher efficiency filters. You generally do not want to sacrifice energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family has 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 significantly over the past several years. Early on, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to shelter the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Winnipeg area homeowners expect their air filter to save kids from a whole host of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!