You hear it again and again: Check your filters. Change your filters. Sometimes it’s hard to remember this small task, but it makes a big difference to your indoor air quality.
Before you get into the habit of changing your filters, though, you should know the best kind to get for your home. Air filters come in a lot of styles, and they’re even rated according to how much lint, dust and other particles they can trap. That rating is important to know, especially if you or your family members suffer from hay fever, are allergic to pet dander, or are sensitive to dust.
The first thing to know about air filters is MERV – the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This is a rating established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers, or ASHRAE. The MERV ratings range from 1 (lowest) to 16.
- The air filters you typically buy at your home improvement store are MERV rated from 1 to 4. This rating is appropriate for normal household use. These low-rated filters trap most pollens, dust mites, spray paint dusts, carpet fibers and more.
- Perhaps you use a few aerosols in your home. Then you may want a MERV of 6 or 7, which traps hair spray and fabric protector before they can compromise your indoor air quality.
- Got pets? Or do you smoke in the house? Opt for a MERV of 8 to 11 to help keep animal dander and tobacco smoke from circulating in your home.
Air filters rated 12 and above represent the highest level of trapped particulates. People who must maintain a very hygienic environment opt for the higher values. Hospitals, for instance, might use MERV 13 to 16 air filters, which can trap even a sneeze!
There’s a trade off for using a higher MERV value, however. The most dense air filters may reduce the air flow from your HVAC system, causing the units to work harder to heat or cool your home.
So between trapping contaminates and getting your air flowing correctly, what are the best air filters for indoor air quality? Let me help you decide. My experienced staff of HVAC pros can work with you to pick out the best brand and rating for your needs.
Then, once you know your best filter … you can get into the habit of checking and changing it regularly!