Choosing The Right Air Filter For Your Gaithersburg Home

February 06, 2015

Trying to select the right air filter for your Gaithersburg home can be a daunting experience. Which brand is best? Does the price reflect the quality? These are just some of the questions that make selecting home air filters so mind-boggling. Let Parker Pearce Service Experts crack the code of home air filters for you, so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.

Here’s an easy way to figure out how efficient your existing filter is (NOTE: Do this outdoors or with something below the filter so you don’t end up with a mess): Set the filter horizontally, then with standard table salt, start pouring the salt through the filter and see the quantity that comes out the other side. If some or all the salt falls through the filter, then you can assume that the filter will let dust pass through as well. You should probably upgrade your filter to higher quality filter that is more efficient.

There are 3 primary considerations when choosing a household air filter; Size, Material and MERV rating.

1) Filter Size

Unless you have the proper size home air filter, you will never enjoy the full effectiveness your system and filter can provide. Simply look at the label of your existing filter to see the dimensions, or just measure it yourself. The majority of home air filters are 1” thick, but there are a number 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 trap contaminants.

To help explain the scale of this system, these are some typical MERV ratings and how they correspond to efficiencies. This is only a guide, so don’t forget to read the filter manufacturers’ information when purchasing 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 extremely important to understand that too high a MERV filter may also cost you more to operate your heating and air conditioning 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.

Think about it this way, the most efficient ‘filter’ would actually be a piece of plywood that would just trap ALL contaminants and all the air from entering your Gaithersburg 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 on the advice of your Parker Pearce Service Experts technician to verify your system has the capability of moving the suitable amount 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 few years. In the beginning, home air filters were used in the furnace or air handler only to safeguard the comfort equipment itself. The story is different today. Gaithersburg area homeowners expect their air filter to save kids from a wide variety of harmful pollutants, dust mites, and even prevent the need for dusting. Dare to dream!