When it comes to choosing just the right air filters for your Calgary home’s HVAC system, deciding between high-efficiency versus low-efficiency, take a page from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In other words, air filters that are on the low end of the efficiency spectrum won’t be effective enough at trapping harmful particles in your home environment. High-efficiency filters, at the other end of the spectrum, are great at filtering the most minute airborne particles, but your HVAC equipment most likely can’t tolerate the restrictive air pressure they cause. The solution is to select air filters falling in the middle of the MERV scale.
MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is an internationally accepted standard for rating HVAC system air filters. MERV ratings run from 1 to 16 for residential filters. Higher numbers indicate higher efficiency at trapping increasingly smaller airborne particles, thereby preventing them from lodging within your equipment and also removing them from the air that you breathe in your home. Higher-efficiency filters also mean:
- Higher unit cost
- More frequent replacement requirements
- Reduced airflow
The ideal filter for your particular needs is the filter that works best with your HVAC unit. For most older systems this will be a MERV-7 or MERV-8 filter, although newer units are often able to handle a MERV-11. If the MERV rating it too high for your unit, the pressure drop will cause low airflow which can damage the motor in the air handler. Too low of a MERV rating means the filter isn’t adequate at filtering potentially unhealthy airborne substances from your breathing air.
A MERV-8 strikes a good balance between performance and cost. If someone has allergies or breathing difficulties, a MERV-11, 12 or 13 may be advised. Your HVAC professional can help you choose the best filter for your system and, if needed, with upgrades to accommodate higher rated filters.
Arpi’s Industries is a full-service HVAC, plumbing and mechanical contractor serving our clients in many Calgary-area communities for more than 50 years now. Contact us for further information or advice on air filters or any other indoor air comfort/quality concerns.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock