Choosing the right air filter

What is a MERV rating? Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), coined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, is a way of easily comparing different filters. The higher the MERV rating the air filter has, the more efficient it is at clearing the air. A rating of 6 is denotes a basic dust filter, for example, going up to a rating of 13, which can filter out bacteria and viruses.

So, how do you know which air filter is right for you? First, make sure you have the correct size. The size can be found on the side of the air filter that is already in your handler. You can also measure that filter or bring it into the store to compare. Most filters are one inch thick, but some are two inches or four inches thick, so be sure to note the thickness, along with the height and width.

Next, decide what you need to filter out of your air. Dust, mold, pet dander, and pollen are the most common particulates that people want to filter out. Filters with a high MERV rating are ideal for households with allergy-sufferers because they filter out more particles from the air than lower-rated filters. The downside to a high MERV rating is that efficient filtering also restricts air flow, so if air flow is important, choose a filter lower MERV rating. Price is also a consideration, and you need to factor in how frequently you will be changing the filter.

Click here to see Filtrete’s filter chart, showing which filters help remove certain types of particles from the air, such as pollen, mold spores, and dust. Their decision tree is another great way to select the right filter for your needs. It walks you through your household needs and what you want to filter out, then gives air filter suggestions.

You will notice on Filtrete’s site, that their filters have ratings from 100 to 2800. These numbers refer to the MPR or micro-particle performance rating, which was developed by 3M (Home Depot also has its own rating system, FPR). Here is a helpful site that translates between rating systems.

At Page’s, we carry two different brands, Ace and Filtrete, both in several different MERV ratings. We also carry a Filtrete smartphone filter that connects to your phone through an app. With the app, you are able to monitor air quality and track the filter’s life. If you don’t see the size/rating filter that you need, ask about special orders at our service desk.

Don’t forget to replace your air filter regularly for the best air quality. If you have pets, a smoker in the household, or someone with allergies, you may want to change your filters more frequently that the manufacturer’s recommendations. When you notice your air conditioner or furnace running more than usual, or if dust seems to collect right after cleaning, these may be indications that your filters need to be changed.

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