Air Filter Evaluation: Everything You Need to Know

The HVAC unit is probably one of the most expensive and important parts of your home. It’s what keeps your house at an enjoyable temperature that’s not too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. One of the most important parts of the system is actually quite simple: the air filter. As you look for furnace maintenance services in Fort Collins, consider if you’ve changed your furnace air filter recently.

Air filters trap dirt, debris, and air particles before they get into your home. Changing the air filter regularly helps preserve the life of your HVAC system, especially during the winter and summer months when it’s running more frequently. Good air filters also help keep your system clean and can keep energy costs down because the furnace isn’t working too hard to push clean air through. Air filters can also keep the air in your home cleaner, which is particularly important if anyone in your home suffers from sickness or allergies. For best results, air filters should be changed every one to three months. Click here to know more about the importance of clean air filters.

How Are Air Filters Evaluated?

But how are air filters evaluated? There are many air filters on the market, but to make sure you’re getting one that’s right for your home, you must understand the rating system.

Air filters are evaluated using an industry-wide standard that tests how much dust and dirt gets through the filter. Essentially, the less dirt that gets through, the better the filter and the higher the rating. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers has a minimum efficiency reporting value or MERV. This rating gives whole-house filters a score based on their filtration level on a scale from 1 to 16. The higher the score, the finer the filtration, or the more difficult it is for small particles to get through. The best air filters have a MERV score higher than 10, but air filters with a score of 8 or 9 can be more affordable while still being effective. A MERV 9 filter still captures around 95% of dirty air particles, which is enough for most families. However, if someone in your home has breathing sensitivity or lung issues, a filter with a MERV score of 11 or more is best. Most consumer-grade air filters don’t have a MERV score higher than 12.

Other filter retailers have different evaluation systems. 3M uses MPR or the micro-particle performance rating. The MPR score is a filter’s ability to catch very small particles. The most effective air filters have MPR scores above 1500. Air filters from Home Depot use the FPR evaluation method, or filter performance rating. The scale is 1 to 10, with the best filters scoring 8 and above. Home Depot’s score takes many factors into consideration, including the capacity and life expectancy of the air filter.

Each of these air filter evaluation methods essentially track the same thing, which is how much dirt and dust particles the filter stops before they get into the air system. For more information on filter evaluation systems, click here.

Other Things to Consider When Buying an Air Filter

When buying a furnace air filter, there are also other things to look for to ensure it is high quality. A HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate-arresting, filter limits the amount of dust that gets blown through the HVAC system. This is particularly important for people with respiratory diseases like asthma. A downside of a particularly effective filter, like one rated MERV 11 or 12, is that it requires the furnace fan to run almost constantly, which can be expensive. These types of filters are only recommended when there is a medical need because of the extra energy and cost.

There’s no doubt that furnace air filters are important and that changing them regularly can extend the life of your HVAC system and create cleaner air in your home. With a huge variety of filters available at all price points, understanding how to choose the best air filter can be very useful.

Furnace Maintenance Services

Need furnace maintenance beyond a simple filter replacement? Contact American Air today.