If you want to improve the air quality inside your home, lower your cooling and heating bills, and extend the life of your equipment, make it a point to check your HVAC filter monthly. The air filter is the first line of defense against premature wear and high conditioning bills. Dirty filters slow the passage of air through the air handler, making your whole system run longer.
Filters vary in their ability to trap and hold particles. The most common designation for HVAC filters is called MERV, which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. The scale for residential use runs from 1 to 16, and higher numbers indicate that the filter traps smaller particles.
Those blue fiberglass filters commonly found in retail stores have a MERV value between 1 and 4. While they’re sufficient for keeping the air handler clean and allowing for smooth airflow when new, they won’t do much to trap mold spores, pollen or dander. The pleated filters that may be stacked near the blue filters have a higher MERV rating because they’re denser and have more surface area. These filters can trap particles as small as 3 microns. A human hair is 40 to 300 microns, by contrast. If someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, choosing a denser filter may give them some relief.
When you check your HVAC filter, look for the MERV number printed on it, and consult with your HVAC professional for the maximum value you can use in your system. Your owner’s manual may also provide the information. Air handlers need a precise amount of air, and denser filters slow the flow, so if you don’t know the upper limit, stick with the type you’re using until you contact an HVAC professional. If you do upgrade the filters to a higher MERV, you’ll have to check and change them more often, since they trap more particles.
Check your HVAC filter for maximum comfort and efficiency. For more information on system efficiency, home comfort or indoor air quality, please contact us at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning. We’ve provided superior HVAC services in the San Joaquin Valley for more than 40 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about checking your air filter and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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