AIR FILTERS 101
Not All HVAC filters are created equally! JUST ASK MERV…

HERE’S THE SCOOP:

Home Air Filter Ratings
Mechanical air filters are the most common type of home air filters used in residential HVAC systems.

These filters use synthetic fibers to trap small particles, debris, and dust, among other things — preventing those things from circulating in the air and getting into our lungs.

The effectiveness of a mechanical air filter is measured in MERV ratings (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). Generally speaking, the cheaper the filter is, the lower the MERV number is. In other words, you get what you pay for. Air filters with lower MERV ratings need to be replaced more frequently.

Graphic displaying MERV or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value numbers for different types of air filters

image of pleated air filterSo, Standard Filters (which are what most people use) are made from loosely woven spun-glass fibers. These fibers are designed to keep your system clean but they don’t improve air quality.

There are other filters that improve Air quality. These are called Media Filters and they’re made of a deeply pleated, paper-like material.

Pleated air filters remove up to 45% of the air pollutants from your home. The number of pleats per foot impact their overall efficiency. They usually cost around $10 each. They have a MERV rating of 10 to 13.

Media Filters are 7 times better at trapping dust and other particles including insecticide dust and flu viruses!! YUCK! They also last a lot longer than your standard filters! They have a super large surface area, some are no bigger than 6 inches but have a surface are that covers up to 75 feet when they’re stretched out!

High-efficiency air filters are the most practical air filters for most residential HVAC systems, removing up to 85% of the air pollutants from your home. They have a MERV rating between 14 and 16.

Filter Action illustration

True HEPA (or High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters provide the best filtration for your home by removing up to 98% of air pollutants from your home. They have a MERV rating between 17 and 20. However, they can only be used in a whole house filtration system or a standalone air purifier.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to get my energy costs down?

You can save about three percent of your heating costs for every degree you lower your thermostat during the winter and for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer, you can cut cooling costs up to six percent.*

Just as important, your system's components should have the highest possible energy efficiency ratings. Make sure your components meet the following minimums:

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What is the importance of rating numbers?

Rating numbers indicate the efficiency of heating and air conditioning equipment and are directly related to the amount of energy a specific model uses. The higher the rating, the more efficient the product, and the lower your energy bills can be.

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How often should I change my filter?

It depends on the filter. Generally, if you have a store bought filter, you should plan on changing it every three (3) months. However, it needs to be checked MONTHLY. With higher efficiency filters, you have a longer life span. They need changed once or twice a year.

How often should I have maintenance performed on my system?

Twice a year. The ideal time to have your system maintained is in the Spring for your AC and in the fall for your furnace. Check out our Priority Price Club for one low price for both units.

Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning system?

You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning or heating system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today's systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system.

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What are some preventative maintenance things I should be aware of?

With the proper attention, heating and cooling systems can keep you comfortable year-round. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces and boilers need a yearly professional tune-up. Gas-fired equipment, on the other hand, burns cleaner and can be serviced every other year. A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires.

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What does distribution maintenance entail?

Tuning up the distribution side of a forced-air system starts with the blower. The axle should be lubricated, blades cleaned and lower motor checked to insure the unit isn't being overloaded. The fan belt should be adjusted so it deflects no more than an inch when pressed.

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What are signs that the thermostat needs attention?

While thermostats rarely fail outright, they can degrade over time as mechanical parts stick or lose their calibration. Older units will send faulty signals if they've been knocked out of level or have dirty switches. To recalibrate an older unit, use a wrench to adjust the nut on the back of the mercury switch until it turns the system on and, using a room thermometer, set it to the correct temperature.

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Do I need to be concerned about my humidifier?

A neglected in-duct humidifier can breed mildew and bacteria, not to mention add too much moisture to a house. A common mistake with humidifiers is leaving them on after the heating season ends. Don't forget to pull the plug, shut the water valve and drain the unit.

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How do different types of filters affect air quality?

Most houses with forced-air furnaces have a standard furnace filter made from loosely woven spun-glass fibers designed to keep it and its ductwork clean. Unfortunately, they don't improve indoor air quality. That takes a media filter, which sits in between the main return duct and the blower cabinet.

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