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How to Choose the Right Home Air Filter for Your Health

July 12, 2023

How to Choose the Right Home Air Filter for Your Health

What do you know about choosing the best home air filter? Learn about selecting the most suitable option for your family's health.

Many people suffer from asthma and allergies that get triggered by allergens inside their homes. Around 45% of people with asthma have dust mite allergies. Increased levels of indoor pollutants can cause numerous side effects, from sneezing to coughing.

Your home's heating and cooling system recirculates air throughout your space to get it to the ideal temperature. Having the right home air filter is key to improving the health of you and your loved ones. Wrong air filters can cause harmful particles to get continually circulated in various rooms in your house.

This guide will discuss how to pick the right air filter for your home. Understanding the ins and outs of home air filters will ensure you purchase the correct one.

How Do Air Filters Work?

Most of the air inside a home includes various contaminants. These can include:

  • Pollen
  • Hair
  • Mold
  • Dirt
  • Dander
  • Dust

In addition to wreaking havoc on your respiratory system, these particles can also interfere with your HVAC unit's performance.

Air filters for RV and home systems are designed to capture these substances. They're typically made from pleated material that gives the filter a larger surface area to trap the particles. Filters can also be made in layers to capture additional particles.

The air filter traps these harmful items as warm or cool air gets passed through the blower in the HVAC unit. The air gets pushed through ducts so the particles don't build up within the system.

What Do MERV Ratings Mean?

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is something you need to keep in mind when choosing an air filter for your home. MERV refers to the numeric value to which an air filter gets assigned. The value corresponds to the performance and efficiency of the air filter.

Standard MERV ratings range from one to 16. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter will be at removing particles from the air:

  • MERV 1- 5: Low-cost filters that offer basic filtration
  • MERV 6-8: Made from pleated paper or cloth and provide good filtration
  • MERV 9-12: High-efficiency filters that can trap smaller particles
  • MERV 13-16: Best standard air filters available

You can explore filters that have a MERV rating higher than 16. However, they are dense and thick, making them less ideal for residential HVAC systems.

Pick Your MERV Rating

The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter will be at trapping harmful allergens. Evaluating your indoor air quality is key to figuring out what rating you need for your air filter. Some of the factors that can impact your air quality include:

  • Where you live
  • Whether you have paint, heavy carpeting, or other common pollutants
  • Pets and smokers

For example, a home that has heavy carpeting with two dogs and three cats won't have as good air quality as a home without those things in it. You might need an air filter with a higher MERV rating if you live in a home that's similar to our example.

You might need a higher-rated air filter if you or someone who lives in your home deals with allergies and asthma. Your HVAC unit needs to be equipped with a filter that's at least an eight on the MERV scale or higher. A professional HVAC technician can help you identify what MERV rating you should be targeting with your air filter.

At FilterTime, we offer MERV 8, MERV 11 and MERV 13.

How Do I Determine Which Size Air Filter I Need?

It is important to replace your air filter with the correct size. Purchasing the wrong size filter can cause multiple issues, such as:

  • Increased energy bills
  • Frequent maintenance
  • Poor air quality

Locate Your Air Filters in Your Home

Your air filter may be located next to your furnace or air conditioning handler. The handler is a metal box containing the fan and motor and can be found in the basement, attic or closet. Once you locate the handler, you may find a spot where the filter will fit.

If you do not see a place for the filter, it is likely that you will place your air filter(s) at the return vents. Return vents are usually located in the wall or ceiling.

Return vents are square or rectangular and larger than your regular air vents. The grate or cover can be opened and the filter will be inserted.

Check The Size Printed on Your Current Filter

HVAC filter sizes usually have three measurements. They're measured by the:

  • Length
  • Width
  • Depth

If you have a filter currently in place, the size will usually be printed on the side of the cardboard frame. You will see the nominal size (the whole number, i.e. 20” x 20” x 1”) and an actual size in smaller print (usually a fraction or decimal, i.e. 19.5“ x 19.5” x .75”). You will usually identify the filter you need by the nominal size.

Measure the Existing Air Filter

If the size is not printed on the air filter, you can measure the existing filter using a tape measure.

Measure the Air Filter Opening

If a filter is not in place, you can measure the space using a tape measure. You will need to determine the length, width and depth. For purposes of depth, standard 1" filters are actually cut to .75”.

Still have questions? Click this link to watch our co-founder Blake Koch measure an air filter and an air filter opening.

Get Your Home Air Filter Delivered Right to Your Door

Finding the right home air filter is important for protecting your family's health. The correct air filter also ensures your HVAC system functions as it should. Doing the research ahead of time will help you find the right one you need for your unit.

It can be challenging to remember to purchase air filters each time you need to replace them. When you finally remember, the store is usually out of the size you need.

That's where Filter Time comes in. We offer convenient air filter delivery directly to your home. Get started today with one of our air filter subscription plans.

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