Home Air Filters You Should Be Buying
Have you ever walked down the home air filter aisle in a big chain home improvement store? Floor to ceiling of filtration products varying in size, color and promise. Look left and you see the “Allergen Defense”. Look right and you see the “Dust Reduction”. At the end of the aisle you have filters with such names as the “Elite 2200X Ultimate Home Allergen Defense: Laboratory Grade”. Yeah, you know the one I am talking about. What kind of outhouse is a person living in when they see that filter and say, “Yep. I need it.” Let’s be honest for a second… Flashy packaging and intimidating names don’t guarantee it’s a good filter or that fact, even the right filter for you. This post will help you identify the correct choice for your family and what you should expect to pay for it.
First, let’s talk about the budget friendly filters. This group I affectionately call the “Something’s Better than Nothing” filter. This is the type of filter, that when held in front of your face, barely disrupt your vision. They are made of spun fiberglass and if you don’t know what that is, imagine a thousand strands of dental floss all knotted together. You can literally see right through the blast thing! Tell me… If you can see through it, what is it stopping? This group of filters is best friends with the air quality that killed the dinosaurs, so use at your own risk.
MERV RATING: 1-4
Price: $1 - $3/filter
Recommendation: ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Next, we have the “At Least You Are Trying” filter. They are obviously better than the cheapo filters and are attractively priced. However, their performance leaves much to be desired. These filters are typically pleated or of a polyester mesh designed to increase surface area and life span. Their names will be things such as Basic Allergen, Pollen Protection, etc. All of this sounds well and good until you dig a little deeper. These filters trap less than 20% of contaminants in your home and close to 0% of the bacterial contaminants. If you have pets or kids in the house, don’t settle for this group.
MERV RATING: 5-7
Price: $4 - $8/filter
Recommendation: Your family deserves cleaner air.
Our next category is where the majority of Americans spend their money… the “Common Sense” filters. This is where Little League and the Majors intersect. All research shows the importance of air quality. It is the true distinguishing feature of a healthy home. These common sense filters capture up to 70% of pollutants. Many brands distance themselves from the competition by specializing in dust control or odor removal. All in all, this is where your search for clean air should begin.
MERV RATING: 8-12
Price: $9 - $20/filter
Recommendation: Find what fits your needs and buy regularly!
The next type of filter quickly becoming a favorite in residential new construction. They are called “Whole House” filters. These are much thicker than your standard filters and inserted directly into the unit rather than into return vents within the walls, ceilings or floor. There is a common misconception about these whole house filters. Because of their standard 5” depth, they are advertised to last up to 12 months. This just isn’t the case. Added depth does mean added life, but it is not directly proportional. Usage, air flow, number of occupants, pets, allergies, geolocation, etc. These all play a role in how often you should change them.
MERV RATING: 8-13
Price: $25 -$35/filter
Recommendation: Only usable in home with “Whole House” systems. You know if you have one.
There are two other filters of which I want to inform you. These two types of filters have the potential to do more damage than good, so be sure to steer clear! The first is what the industry calls "washable filters". Almost everyone who works with HVAC systems is completely against these atrocities. The amount of work needed to wash these filters out every months is not worth the money saved. Not to mention the bacteria and mold that can grow at rapid pace unless properly cleansed and dried. Save your time and money and buy disposable filters.
You also need to be weary of using anything over a MERV 12 in your home. The better the filter, the thicker the material used. With this thick of filter, you risk damaging your HVAC unit as it struggles to push air through the thick media. Some systems are designed to accommodate a MERV 13 or higher, but make sure you know your unit capabilities.
Hopefully this little guide will help you make the right decision when it comes to air quality and your home. Check out www.timelyfilters.com/our-filters/ for more information on the products we offer. Breathe easy, my friends!