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Do You Know How Effective Your Air Filter Really Is?

Published on December 6th, 2017

Air filter

The right air filter combined with the right MERV rating for your home means greater efficiency, savings, and indoor air quality. Have you changed your air filter lately?

What should you do when Mother Nature gives a reprieve from arctic temps? Take the family sledding! Don’t forget to take along some firewood, an old pot, and the fixin’s for plenty of hot cocoa, too. See how many new friends you can make at the forest preserves shelter while you’re at it. Then when you return home, do these two things:

  1. Change your air filter
  2. Check your humidifier to make sure it is still working properly and not leaking

Now, About That Air Filter …

Take a good look at your air filter while you have it out to change. How thick is it? If it’s only an inch thick, it’s time to educate yourself on the purpose of a good quality air filter.

Look for the MERV Rating for Your Air Filter

MERV Rating? Sounds like some guy’s nickname, I know. But MERV in relation, to your heating and cooling system, is an acrostic for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It was designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to rate the overall effectiveness of air filters. The higher the MERV rating, the higher the filtering performance and the better an air filter is at capturing smaller particles. For example, MERV ratings of 16 or higher capture the most pollutants possible. Those are the kinds used in hospitals. And fewer dust particles and other airborne contaminants that are unable to pass through the air filter is great for your family and you.

Why the MERV Rating is Important

The MERV rating’s importance goes beyond an air filter’s ability to capture dust particles and other airborne contaminants. An air filter’s inability to help your HVAC system work efficiently affects the size of your monthly utility bills and the length of the life of your HVAC system. Furnaces that breathe better run cooler and last longer. Makes sense, right?

Lower MERV rated filters are less efficient overall, but they allow more air to pass through the air filter. And that’s not a bad thing. More air passing through an air filter can actually assist the operation of an HVAC system. So it’s important to have just the right combination of air filter and MERV rating to suit the needs of your home and HVAC system.

Choosing the right MERV rating on the right air filter for your HVAC system matters to your family’s health and lifestyle, because it impacts the quality of your indoor air.

Which MERV Rating is Best for Your Furnace?

The most recommended MERV ratings for residential filters are between MERV 7 and MERV 13. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers recommends filters with minimum MERV ratings of 6. The Trane CleanEffects Whole-House Air Filtration SystemAir Purification System will take care of you for years.

An air filter with the following MERV ratings will capture:

  • MERV 1 to 4 – Less than 20% of large particles (3 to 10 microns)
  • 5 to 7 – Between 20% and 69% of large particles
  • 8 to 10 – Approximately 85% of large particles and 50% of small particles (1.0 to 3.0 microns)
  • 11 to 16 – More than 90% of large particles and between 70% and 90% of small particles
  • 17 to 20 – Even the smallest particles (< 0.3 microns)

The Why’s and Wherefore’s of Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance on your HVAC system is also important. Why? Because higher is not better. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the pores are for air to flow through an HVAC filter. This can create more resistance in airflow than your system can handle, making it work harder and inefficiently. Furthermore, reducing the airflow can worsen the air quality inside your home and damage the fan on your furnace or AC system. Your Blue Frost Heating & Cooling professionals know what the highest MERV rated air filter that still allows maximum airflow in your system is, the ideal combination of MERV rating and air filter for your HVAC system. Call (630) 761-9007 to schedule maintenance of your HVAC system today.

And One More Thing …

Change your air filter often. Filters with higher MERV ratings need to be changed at least every three months to avoid restricted airflow. Just one more reason to schedule regular maintenance of your HVAC system with Blue Frost Heating & Cooling.

Blue Frost Heating & Cooling – For properly working home systems in the Fox Valley Area. Call (630) 761-9007.



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