The air filter on your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system needs to be replaced every 1-3 months. This is an important maintenance task, because it allows your home to have clean, unobstructed air flow.
Most HVAC manufacturers and maintenance experts advise that you use a high quality air filter because it removes contaminants that could affect your indoor air quality (such as dust, mold, etc.).
With all the different types of indoor air quality products on the market, it's difficult to determine which brand claim will keep your home's air the cleanest. Knowing what air filter to purchase for your home can be overwhelming, so understanding the basics is helpful.
What does MERV mean?
While you're shopping, you will find that most HVAC filters display a label with a MERV or a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The rating will range from 1-16. The higher the MERV rating, the higher the ability of the filter to remove small or even microscopic particles and bacteria - But that doesn't mean buying an expensive filter every month is what your home needs... So how do you know what air filter to purchase for your home?
To help you make the most of your money, here is a quick reference guide to help you choose what air filter to purchase for your home!
What Air Filter to Purchase for Your Home: MERV Rating Reference Guide
- MERV 1-4. Low-cost, disposable filters that can collect the largest particles (dust mites, carpet fibers, pollen), but are not capable of improving air quality.
- MERV 5-7. Mid-priced filters used to collect smaller particles than MERV 1-4 ratings, and are installed in both residential and commercial spaces. Efficiently remove airborne contaminants (hairspray fumes, mold spores, and cement dust).
- MERV 8-12. Filters with added proficiency used in spaces that have poor or substandard indoor air quality. These filters will be comprised of dense pleats to retain extremely fine particles in the air (like microbial mold spores). Note: Due to their efficiency, you must frequently check and replace MERV 8-12 rated filters.
- MERV 13-16. High-end and very effective air filters capable of removing airborne bacteria. BUT be aware that they can obstruct air flow in your home. Plus, certain HVAC systems may need adjustments (like a more powerful motor for the blower) to use MERV 13-16 rated filters. HVAC specialists recommend these for environments where completely pure air quality is vital.
For in-depth information about MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value), see the EPA's Air Filter Application Guidelines.
What Air Filter to Purchase for Your Home: Installation
Once you have the perfect air filter for your home, installation is simple! Check out this helpful step-by-step guide to Replace your Furnace Filter.