Trying to select the right air filter for your Dallas home can be a daunting experience. What’s the best one? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just two of many of the questions that make the selection mind-boggling. Let Levy & Son Service Experts crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
Here’s a tried and true way to tell how efficient your current filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Hold the filter horizontally, then taking standard table salt, pour the salt through the filter then see the amount 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 particles of similar size pass through. You might want to upgrade your filter to an air filter that’s more efficient.
Size, MERV rating and material – these are the three primary factors used to pick the proper air filter for your home.
1) Filter Size
Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the dimensions, or just measure it yourself. The majority of home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a variety of standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.
2) Material & MERV Rating
MERV ratings are the efficiencies of the filter on a scale of 16. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number identifies for the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to hold contaminants.
As a basic example, these are some common MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so be sure 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 ensure better filtration efficiency, it is critical 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.
Think about it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would probably be a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from coming inside your Dallas home. That's definitely the “best” air filtration, but would also be like living in a box.
Your best bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used subject to the advice of your Levy & Son Service Experts technician to confirm 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 suffers from allergies or respiratory problems and a high MERV rated filter is required, consider a whole-home air filtration solution that will satisfy your energy and filter efficiency needs.
Filtration has changed significantly over the past ten years. Originally, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. Today it’s a whole new ballgame. Dallas area homeowners expect their air filter to save children from a a growing list of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!