Which Type Of Air Filter Is Right For Your Home?

air filterThe right HVAC air filter is a major asset in the fight against indoor air contaminants and some can even deal with other pollutants common in the Greater Los Angeles area, such as car emissions. While the right air filter for you depends on several factors, the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, system makes it easier to decide.

MERVs 1 to 4 – These low-efficiency filters are the standard 1-inch fiberglass models. They trap larger particles such as hair and carpet fibers to protect your heating and cooling system from damaging debris buildup, but they don’t clean your air.

MERVs 5 to 8 – In this range are the medium-efficiency filters that clean the air enough to meet the needs of the average household where no one is dealing with a respiratory health condition. The less efficient models within this range are typically flat-panel fiberglass filters, while the more efficient models are pleated designs made with synthetic fibers. You can also find reusable filters starting in this range, although these require more work on your part than disposable filters do.

MERVs 9 to 12 – If you have allergies, asthma or another respiratory condition, the filters in this range are your best bet. They’re also a good choice if you live in an area with poor air quality. They capture most of the pollen, mold spores, pet dander, and other particles that can irritate your airways. Some even trap large types of bacteria.

HEPA filters – A high efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter offers a MERV of 17 or higher and can trap 99.97 percent of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in size. While they do an excellent job of cleaning the air, they interfere with airflow too much for most residential HVAC systems. If you want a HEPA filter in your home, a heating and cooling technician might be able to install a bypass system to allow for one.