When deciding on what type of filter to buy for your unit, how do you determine which one to buy? Does it make a difference in what type of material your filter is made out of? Is there a type that is better for asthmatics or pet owners? This guide will help you find out what kind of air filter you should buy for your home.

MERV rating

MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value, and, in plain terms, it’s the system that rates how well a filter can prevent certain particles and contaminants from passing through it. The scale ranges from 1 to 20, with hospitals using the highest-rated filters.

The lower the MERV rating, the fewer particles it traps. Filters with a MERV rating of four can prevent pollen, dust mites, sanding dust, spray paint dust, and both textile and carpet fibers from passing through filters. Because of the need to prevent airborne illnesses from spreading from sick patients to others, hospitals and operating rooms use filters with a MERV rating of 17 and higher. These filters can block viruses, carbon dust, auto emissions, and combustion smoke.

What is MERV rating best for home use?

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioner Engineers, a filter with a MERV rating of six or higher is best to use in your home. A filter with a MERV rating of seven can block mold spores and hairspray. You will want to check with a professional before purchasing your air filters to ensure that you get what you want for your health needs. For example, if someone in your home has allergies, you will want the most protection possible.

What materials are filters made from?

Common fiberglass filters, which are generally about an inch thick, tend to have a lower MERV rating. The next type of filter is the pleated filter, which can be made from either polyester or cotton. Some cotton filters have an electrostatic quality to them, which means that they capture contaminants in the air by attracting them. Most homeowners prefer using the cotton pleated filters rather than the polyester filters. The multiple pleats create many layers that block contaminants such as dust, dirt, mold spores, spray paint, dust, and hairspray. Washable filters are made from fabric, but these are the least popular types of filters. Lastly, HEPA filters are made with extremely tight and convoluted twists of fiberglass to make them very effective in blocking 99.9% of contaminants.

What size filter should I buy?

The size of the filter that you need to buy will depend on the type of unit that you have. If you’re unsure and don’t want to purchase filters online before consulting with a professional, you can reach out to a certified retailer for your unit’s brand. All major air-conditioning and furnace manufacturers have representatives that can help you find the right size for your unit. For example, 20x30x1 AC filters by Filter King might be the perfect fit for your unit, or it might be too big. It’s important to never cut a filter yourself. This damages the fibers that make it so good at keeping contaminants out. Instead, call a professional who can ensure you get the right product.

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