One of the things you can do at home to keep your air system functioning efficiently is to be diligent about changing out your air filter. A fresh air filter will screen harmful contaminants out of the air and keep the ducts free of obstructions, ensuring you and your family breathe fresh, clean air.

But how do you know which one is right for your unit? The easy answer is to just use the same type that you’ve currently got in your HVAC unit, but you might not be getting the most out of your air circulation. Follow this handy guide from the experts at American Air, Plumbing & Electric, and you’ll be an air filter expert in no time!

Know Your Acronyms

Whenever you begin the process of purchasing a new air filter, you’re going to need to be familiar with a few acronyms. If you’ve gone through this before, then you’ll recognize them, but if it’s your first time then it can all get very confusing extremely quickly.

  • MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is a scale that helps you determine how efficient a particular filter is at screening out contaminants. Every filter you come across will have a MERV rating assigned to it – including the one in your home right now. It should be easily visible somewhere on the filter already.
  • HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate-Arresting) A HEPA filter is extremely good at keeping particles out and thus will be more expensive.

Mark Your Measurements

Make sure you’ve got the right-sized filter! Nothing would be more frustrating than purchasing a new air filter, only to come home and realize it’s too big or too small for your HVAC unit.
Your current filter’s measurements will probably be printed somewhere on the filter itself, but if it’s not, then it shouldn’t take long to measure its dimensions. Just double-check or write the numbers down before you make a trip to the hardware store!

Don’t Overdo It

Since the MERV scale goes from 1-to 20 or so, it can be tempting to simply grab the one with the highest rating on the shelf and assume your air will be crystal-clear for months to come. Not so fast! Although a higher MERV rating does indicate a higher efficiency, there is a downside to it.

Most of our HVAC units aren’t designed to operate with a screen as finely designed as one with a high MERV rating has. If you just stick one in for your old filter, your air isn’t going to have the necessary air pressure to effectively circulate through it, and your efficiency will suffer as a result.

It actually might end up being more harmful to your unit than helpful! Most HVAC units operate well with a MERV rating around the 10-12 range, so unless you’ve got a specially designed unit, we don’t recommend going much higher or lower than that.

More Questions? Ask American Air, Plumbing & Electric

We know that learning everything about HVAC filters isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Luckily, that’s why we’re here! American Air, Plumbing & Electric has the premier HVAC team in the Central Florida area, and we can help you out with any heating or cooling questions or concerns you may have.

Give us a call at (407) 512-9337 to speak to one of our team members today!

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