Choosing The Right Air Filter For Your Rochester Home

February 06, 2015

You’ve probably experienced the feeling of confusion when trying to select the correct home air filter for your needs. What does my system require? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just two of many of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Strogen's Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning attempt to resolve your home air filter questions and allow you to continue enjoying the comfort of your home without concern.

Here’s a simple way to tell how efficient your existing filter is (NOTE: Spare yourself a huge mess by conducting this experiment outside or with something below the filter to help keep things clear): Position the filter horizontally, then using everyday table salt, begin to pour the salt through the filter to see how much comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you know that the filter will let dust that same size flow through. You might want to upgrade your filter to higher quality filter that is more efficient.

Size, MERV rating and material – these are the three primary factors used to pick the proper air filter for your home.

1) Filter Size

Purchasing a properly sized air filter for your Rochester home is important. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the height by width and thickness, or just measure it yourself. Typically home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a variety of standard width and height dimensions, and some systems have thicker filters.

2) Material & MERV Rating

The efficiencies of filters are rated on a scale of 16, known as MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number identifies for the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to capture contaminants.

To explain MERV ratings more impactfully, these are some common MERV ratings and how they connect to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget to read the filter manufacturers’ information when shopping for specific filters.

Rating Average Filtration Efficiency

MERV 1-4 60-80%
Fiberglass, Disposable Panel, Washable metal/synthetic, self-charging (Passive)

MERV 5-8 80-95%
Pleated, Media panel, Cube

MERV 9-12 >95%
Extended pleated

MERV 13-16 >98%
Electronic

Be Careful About High MERV Ratings

While a higher MERV number may offer better filtration efficiency, it is very important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your furnace and AC system. The higher the MERV, the less the air may flow through the system, and the harder the system may need to work. Your objective should be to get the right balance between air flow, air filtration level and energy efficiency.

Consider it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would probably be a piece of plywood that prevents ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your Rochester home. That's all-out air filtration
, but would also be the least comfortable way to go.

A safe bet for most systems would be a MERV 6-8. A higher MERV filter should be used based upon the advice of your Strogen's Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning representative to verify your system has the capability of moving the correct quantity of air through higher efficiency filters. You probably do not want to give up energy-efficiency for filter efficiency; you want a balance of the two. However, if your family deals with allergies or respiratory problems and the situation necessitates a high MERV rated air filter, consider a
whole-home air filtration solution that will achieve your energy and filter efficiency needs.

Filtration has changed considerably over the past ten years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to protect the comfort equipment itself. But (in the words of Bob Dylan) the times they are a changing. Rochester area homeowners expect their air filter to save kids from a a growing list of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!