The best air filters for your HVAC system can reduce the misery you experience from the trees, shrubs and grasses that produce pollen in the fall. Surprisingly, it’s not the showy chrysanthemums that are the worst offenders. Instead, it’s all the tiny flowers you can’t see that cause most of the allergic reactions. Here's a quick guide to finding the best air filters for your home:
How Filters Are Graded
Some filters have labels that indicate their MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) ratings, which are the way the HVAC industry informs consumers about the smallest particles a filter can trap. The range runs from 1 to 16 for residential filters, and higher MERV ratings indicate the filter can trap smaller particles.
You may find filters that don’t list their MERV ratings, but instead use “good, better, or best” to indicate the size of particles they trap. The inexpensive lightweight fiberglass filters are labeled “good” have MERV ratings from 1 to 4, which means they trap only the largest particulates in the air. Better pleated filters have ratings from 5 to 8. The best air filters range from 9 to 16 ratings.
Choosing the Right Filter
The air filter will trap airborne allergens as long as it has a MERV value between 9 and 12, or is rated as best. But before replacing it with such a filter, it’s important not to exceed the maximum value your system can handle.
Look in the owner’s manual or ask your HVAC technician for the best air filters to use in your system. As filter quality improves, airflow through it slows. HVAC systems are designed to handle a specific amount of air, and if a filter restricts it, energy consumption increases as does wear and tear on the components.
When you upgrade your filter to a higher MERV rating, check it more often. Since they’re denser, they will clog faster. Running your equipment with a dirty filter is as harmful as using one that’s too dense.
The best air filters can help you manage your fall allergies. To learn more about improving your indoor air, contact Hartman Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning, serving Fort Wayne homeowners.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in New Haven, Indiana and surrounding Fort Wayne area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 260-376-2961.
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