One of the most important components of forced air heating and cooling systems are the air filters. They make an impact on energy bills, system longevity and indoor air quality. Although it’s one of the most important elements of your HVAC system, it’s also one of the easiest to overlook.
Filters carry efficiency ratings known as minimum efficiency reporting values, or MERV, which tell consumers the smallest particle the filter can trap. The scale runs from 1 to 16 for residential filtration, and efficiency rises as the numbers get higher. Most HVAC systems can use a filter with a MERV rating of 8 or less, and anything higher has the potential to slow the airflow through the air handler, which harms your system and increases energy bills.
The least expensive air filters are fiberglass and have MERV ratings no higher than 4. The size of the particles an air filter can remove is measured in microns, and a filter with a MERV of 4 will trap particles no smaller than 10 microns, including dust, pollen, lint and larger mold spores. An air filter with a MERV up to 8 will trap airborne particulates that are 3 microns and larger, including mold and other spores, hair, animal dander and very fine dust.
Before you upgrade your filters to a higher MERV rating, check the owner’s manual to learn the maximum density your air handler can handle, or check with an HVAC professional who can tell you.
No matter what filter you choose, be sure to check air filters monthly. Higher efficiency filters trap more particles, so they can accumulate dirt quicker. One of the ironies of filtration is that the fiberglass filters actually trap more particles when they’re dirty, but combined with the slower airflow and the fact that more dust enters your system, it’s not a good way idea to use them when they’re dirty.
To learn more about air filters for your HVAC system in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area, contact Cox Air Conditioning & Heating today.