Air filters are probably a device that you think very little about. They sit, hidden away, and yet they play an important role in keeping your air conditioner running smoothly and in keeping your family happy and healthy. Picking the right filter for your home can be overwhelming – there are so many options! Having a guide can help you make the right choice.
Why Quality Matters
Good air quality is so important to your health and vitality. A quality air filter will keep dust and other pollutants out of the air in your home. Indoor air quality is considered one of the top five environmental health risks, taking the issue seriously can help protect you from respiratory issues, allergy issues, and asthma problems.
Terms to Know
When shopping for a new air filter there are a few terms that you should know so that you can make the best decision possible.
- Microns – Microns are the common measure of the size of airborne particles. Micron is short for micrometer and is roughly 0.00004 inches. As a comparison, a human hair is about 75 microns across.
- MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating is on a scale of 1 to 16. The higher the rating the finer the filter. It is recommended to get a filter with at least a rating of 6.
- MPR – Microparticle Performance Rating. MPR is a rating scale created by 3M. MPR measures the ability of the filter to capture particles smaller than one micron. The higher the MPR rating, the better the filter is at capturing particles.
- FPR – Filter Performance Rating. A rating system developed by the Home Depot, FPR runs on a scale of 4 to 10. FPR is very similar to the MERV rating.
- HEPA – High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filters. HEPA filters are extremely efficient and capture about 99.97% of all airborne particles. On the MERV scale, they range from 17-20. Most people do not require filters this efficient.
Generally, the lower the filter’s rating the cheaper the filter. Unfortunately, cheaper filters need to be replaced more frequently and don’t do as good of a job at trapping particles. Look for filters with a higher rating, they last longer and do a better job of filtering – which protects your health and prolongs the life of your AC unit.
Types of Filters
The filters you buy for your HVAC unit are generally classified as mechanical filters. Most mechanical filters work by trapping particles and pollutants in a sheet of synthetic fibers to keep them from circulating through your unit. The quality of the filter is often determined by the type of synthetic used to trap particles.
The cheapest and simplest form of an air filter. Originally fiberglass filters were designed to protect your air conditioner, not improve your air quality. Fiberglass filters are a thin, flat panel and they only remove about 10% of air pollutants from your home.
Pleated filters are made out of polyester or cotton sheets. The amount of pleats per foot is key to a pleated filter’s performance. A good rule of thumb is that a pleated filter should have at least 18 pleats per foot. Generally, pleated filters remove 45% of air pollutants from your home.
High-Efficiency filters are very effective at removing particles and pollutants, capturing up to 85% of all pollutants. These filters are generally pleated and then covered with chemicals that eliminate bacteria and mold.
True HEPA filters are the most effective filters for removing airborne particles. Unfortunately, these filters only work if you have a whole house filtration system or an air purifier. They restrict too much air for a normal HVAC system, but they remove close to 98% of all pollutants and particles.
Replace Your Filter Today
Air filters should be replaced regularly to keep your air conditioner running in optimal conditional. When you go to replace your air filter take a closer look at the ratings on the box, they can make a big difference in your home’s air quality, and save you money on air conditioning repairs down the road!