Buying air filters is usually a side thought for many homeowners; however, choosing the right filter for your home is essential. Home air filters, also known as furnace filters, help keep the components of your HVAC system clean. When those parts become dirty, your HVAC system has to work harder. Buying the right filter and regularly changing it can help extend the life of your heating and cooling system.

Air Filters 101: Buying Air Filters For Your Home

Aside from your filter keeping your HVAC working properly, your filter also helps clean the air you and your family breathe. There are many factors that determine the variety and amount of particles in your home’s air. For example, do you have pets? How many people live in your home? What types of activities do you do at home, such as cooking and crafts? People who have allergies or chronic lung conditions such as asthma should be especially vigilant about keeping their home air filters clean.

An important item to note is that you need to regularly change your home air filter. Regardless of the quality, if your filter is clogged with particles, it will not function properly. Changing your filters every month helps to ensure optimal function. In addition, if your home is new or you are remodeling, you may need to change your filter more often due to the increase in dust and building material particles in the air.

Buying Air Filters

How Air Filters Function

The main function of a filter is to capture all types of particles and impurities from the air. Some air filters are more effective than others at trapping pollutants. The majority of these particles can have an impact on comfort and health. Among them are:

The air filtering process happens when the dispersed air is pulled back into the HVAC system, conditioned, and reused. Air is forced through the air filter during this process. The filter captures and removes particles and impurities from the air. As a result, these particles can no longer recirculate in the air we breathe. 

Airborne Contaminants

Size, Shape, Material, and Style of Furnace Filters

Before replacing your furnace filter, double-check the measurements of the current filter to ensure you’re getting the correct size. Most residential home filters are 1-inch thick; however, due to the volume of air flowing in the home, some homes may have HVAC systems with up to a 4-inch filter.

When buying air filters, many different materials and types are available to consider. The density of the material and the volume and size of filtered particles all impact the filter’s performance. The cheapest filters feature a layer of fibers (usually fiberglass or cotton/paper), typically covered by a casing with a honeycomb shape. Reusable filters are a fantastic eco-friendly option that can be cleaned with water and reused. You will also see filters identified as HEPA, made of either synthetic materials or glass, and the newest revolution in filters are the highly-efficient nanofiber filters.  

Filters that are pleated have a larger surface area allowing them to trap particles, making them efficient. In addition, some pleated filters have an electrostatic charge. 

Filter Styles

Check the MERV Rating Before Buying Air Filters

There are low-end, mid-level, and high-end options with practically anything we buy. Unfortunately, all products are not created equal, including air filters when cleaning your air. The greater the filter quality, the more toxins will be eliminated from the air in your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, air filters are assigned a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). This number indicates how well the filter captures particles and the size of particles in micrometers or microns they can capture.  Household filters typically have a value ranging from 1 to 16. Again, this number indicates how effective the filter is, with a higher MERV rating indicating that it can capture more particles. 

When buying air filters for your home, check the filter’s effectiveness to identify the optimal air filter for your home’s needs. The goal is to choose the filter with the highest efficiency available; however, it is vital to ensure your HVAC unit is compatible with the filter rating before purchasing filters.

HVAC Efficiency Ratings

Below is a high level definition of the MERV ratings for Air filters.

1-4: These are the most common standard filters and have minimal filtration, capturing less than 20% of particles in the air greater than 10 microns in size.

5-8: Commonly used in household settings, these filters can capture up to 35% of particles that range from 3.0 to 10.0 microns in size.

9-12: These filters are superior in filtering out particles and are commonly used in homes, commercial buildings, and laboratories. They can trap up to 75% of particles as small as 1 micron.

13-16: The most efficient and highest-quality filters on the market can trap up to 95% of particles as small as 0.3 microns.

There are filters with MERV values greater than 16, but they are heavy and dense, and a standard household HVAC system cannot handle them. In addition, they can obstruct airflow by limiting it, which affects the performance of your heating and cooling systems and can cause HVAC equipment damage. 

Buying Quality Air Filters

Filtration Terms to Know

MERV: ASHRAE’s minimum efficiency reporting value is a rating on many home air filters. The hither the filtering capabilities of the filter, the higher the MERV rating. 

MPR: 3M’s Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR) evaluates filters on their capacity to catch airborne particles smaller than 1 millimeter. The best quality filters have an MPR ranging from 1,500 to 1,900.

FPR: Home Depot has its own ranking system, created by 3M, dubbed the Filter Performance Rating, that ranges from 1 to 10. The greater the number, the better the filtering.

HEPA filters: Installing a HEPA filter in a furnace helps minimize the quantity of dust forced through the heating system. These filters are primarily in hospitals and lab settings. 

Filti Air Filters for the Home

No matter what sort of HVAC system you have in your home, each unit needs a quality air filter that fits correctly to enhance indoor air quality and keep your unit functioning efficiently. However, choosing the best filter for your home and HVAC unit can be confusing. At Filti, we understand this. Our experienced staff is here to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call at (913) 274-9843 for assistance with your air filter needs, or contact us online. We will do our best to assist you in picking the right filter for your specific needs.

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