An air filter in your home keeps the air clean of dust, debris, and other allergens that can make you ill or cause people with allergies or asthma breathing issues. There is a system called MERV that rates each air filter. This way people know how efficient their air filter is. With a higher MERV rating, the air filter will operate better.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers assigns MERV (Minimum Efficient Reporting Value) ratings. MERV ratings were created to provide an idea of how effective the air filter is. When choosing an air filter, it is essential to consider MERV to select the right filter for your purpose.
There are 16 different MERV ratings:
● MERV 13 to 16 helps control airborne bacteria as well as tobacco smoke and pollutants from sneezing. These filters are perfect for smoking lounges, surgery suits, and commercial buildings where there are many people coming and going on a daily basis. They help to regulate the contaminants that may build up in these places.
● MERV 9, 10, 11, 12 helps control dust, lead dust, emissions from vehicles, and fumes from welding. These are the best filters for residences with excellent HVAC systems, such as automotive centers, hospital labs, and commercial buildings. They can also be utilized in office buildings, schools, and other places where large numbers of people congregate.
● MERV 5 to 8 filters will help control the amount of mold, hair spray, dust, and bacteria in the air. They’re great for residential homes, commercial buildings, and paint booths.
● MERV 1 to 4 filters are best for controlling larger particles, like sanding dust, dust from painting, and lint and carpet particles. These filters are good in residential homes and window air conditioning units.
The type of pollutants and contaminants you are trying to keep out of your home will determine the filter you’ll pick for your home.
Not only do air filters have a MERV rating, but the rating also provides you with important information on how much dust and debris will be filtered through the air. A lower MERV rating will be better for general allergies and won’t impact the quality of your air. A higher MERV rating is better for people with more severe allergies or asthma because it will filter out smaller particles.
How Does An Air Filter Work?
These are the steps in the process of an air filter cleaning the air in your home.
- Air goes through the filter screen.
- As air goes through the screen, many types of dirt, debris, allergens, and viruses get caught within the filter. This way, they do not make it out into your home, which filters the air.
- As time goes on (and all the dirt, debris, and bacteria get caught), the air filter builds up and gets clogged. When your air filter gets clogged, it’ll let less air come back into your home.
- You should then replace your air filter and let the process start over.
Remember that the aim of an air filter is to clean the air in your home and capture any harmful bacteria. Therefore, you should replace it with a new one when your air filter gets clogged.
When to Change Your Air Filter
You should change your air filter every two months depending if you have pets or not. If you have pets, you should change your air filter every month. If you do not have pets, then every other month is okay.
How to Change Your Air Filter
Depending on the kind of air filter you have, there are different ways to install it.
Return Air Duct
1. Open the vents by unlatching the hook on the grille.
2. Clean the grille with a microfiber cloth, a washcloth, or wipes.
3. If you need to clean the slits, wrap a washcloth around a screwdriver and wipe it in between the slits.
4. Once it is cleaned, put the filter in the right direction.
5. Place the grille onto the vent and then secure the latch.
Air Handler Cabinet
1. Turn off your HVAC system. If you don’t know how to turn off the system, read your owner’s manual.
2. Unhook the latch and clean the grille with a microfiber cloth or washcloth. You can use a screwdriver like described above.
3. Look at what kind of air filter you have. If it’s disposable, insert the new air filter. If it’s reusable, clean it with a vacuum or run it under hot water. Let the air filter dry completely before reinstalling.
4. Insert the clean, dry air filter in the frames.
5. Once the clean, dry air filter is in place, turn on your HVAC system.
Window A/C Unit
1. To turn off your window A/C unit, unplug the appliance.
2. Remove the front cover.
3. Clean the front cover with a vacuum hose or hot water.
4. Take out the air filter and shake out any dust or pollutants outside.
5. Clean the air filter with soap and hot water, rinsing thoroughly to get out all of the soap.
6. Use a cloth, hairdryer, or air dryer, to dry the air filter.
7. When the air filter is dry, reinstall it by aligning it with the frame and notches of the window A/C unit.
8. Replace the cover.
9. After replacing the dry parts, turn the window A/C unit on.
Related article: Washable furnace filters vs disposable
Frequently Asked Questions
Is no air filter better than a dirty one?
It’s worse to run your air conditioner without a filter than it is to operate it with a dirty one. Your air conditioner is at risk of serious and costly problems if you don’t use a filter. Make sure you replace your filter as soon as possible.
Will AC stop working if filter is dirty?
Unlike a vacuum cleaner, your air conditioner doesn’t have to work nearly as hard when there is less dust and debris for it to draw in. That said, having a dirty filter does limit how much air can move through it and therefore reduces efficiency. So, if you have reduced airflow coming out of your vents or experience a noticeable drop in temperature, your filter could be partially clogged. To ensure that your AC is working at peak performance and that you’re using energy efficiently, replace your filters every two months.
You might also be interested in learning about: what is a furnace filter?
Having the best air filter suited for your home is essential for your family to have clean air. After all, it is every person’s right to have clean air, especially in their home. No one should be breathing in bacteria, viruses, or other harmful toxins in the air. If you need any assistance replacing your air filter or need help finding one, you can always consult your HVAC owner’s manual or call a professional to help you.