Air filters not only allow you to have a healthy home, they also protect your heating and air condition system from breaking. When the air from your home is sucked into the system to heat or cool the air, your filter is what keeps the bacteria from clogging the coils that create your air temperature. Regularly changing your filter allows for less particles to hit your system and instead get trapped in your filter.
The air we breathe is an important part of our health. Though we may not be able to smell bacteria, our bodies can feel it and it can cause long term affects.
Where is my system located?
Wherever your heating and air conditioning resides is where you want to pull your air filter from. This is typically located in a mechanical room. Places like a closet, basement or even an attic are all places you could find your system. Filters can also be found in the ceiling or in the wall. This location is more common in 1” filters. Often, turning on the fan of your system and listening, can help you determine the location of your system.
Most in-home air filters are 1”, however if yours is not, then you have a “media” filter which is a thicker version. “Media” filters, or box filters, are around 4 to 6” in thickness and are considered whole house filters found in a cabinet-like setting.
What size filter should I buy?
The correct size is important for your air filter. Your filter should have a label on the frame with a given size. The make, model number or serial number are not important numbers for your filter. You can also determine the size by using a tape measure to get the exact dimensions.
Width x Height x Depth – Typically the longer measurement is taken for the height. An example would be 16 x 24 x 1. The width is 16 inches, height is 24 inches and the depth is 1 inch.
What is Merv and MPR?
The Merv of a filter is stated to help you determine how much bacteria and particles you want to keep out of your system. A Merv rating of 6 tells you that about half of your particles will be trapped. An 8 Merv rating traps 70 to 85 percent of particles in the air. An 11 rating or higher says that about 95 percent of your air will be cleaner exiting than it was entering the filter. MPR is also an indication of the level of filtration your filter provides. The higher the number, the more particles being filtered.
A higher merv or MPR rating is not always a better filter for your system. If a filter has too high of a rating it can mean less air flow and less recirculation. This could actually harm the air quality of your home. Verifying that you have the correct filter size and rating is very important before purchasing a filter.
How do I install my air filter?
When installing your new filter, make sure to turn the fan off as dust can get lodged in your HVAC system. If your filter does not look dirty after 3 months, you should check that you have the correct filter and that it was installed correctly. Filters should not be loose and often arrows will be located on the frame of the filter to give the indication of the direction to install the filter. The downstream side of the filter should face the blower of your HVAC system. Most filters can only be inserted one way.
Need more help? Visit our Air Filters Buying Guide.