Changing your furnace air filter regularly is crucial to keep your system operating efficiently. Clogged filters can lead to costly repairs and significantly reduce the life of your heat exchanger and blower components.

Low- and high-efficiency air filters each have specific applications. Understanding each will help you choose the one that is right for your home. High-efficiency filters Low- and high-efficiency air filters are rated according to their minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). The MERV for residential filters goes from 1 to 16. Filters with a MERV of 11 or higher are capable of capturing 99 percent of pollutants. Due to their ability to trap bacteria, pollen, and viruses, these high-efficiency filters are frequently used in households where someone has allergies or a compromised immune system. If someone in your home is highly sensitive to air pollutants, the added cost of these filters may be justified.

Most HVAC systems are not designed for higher MERV filters. It is important to first consult with your HVAC technician. They can boost the fan and may need to reinforce some areas of ductwork. The higher MERV filters will fill up faster than standard filters and need to be changed frequently. It is also necessary to run the fan constantly for full filtration benefits. Traditional fiberglass filters at the low end of the spectrum are the inexpensive MERV 2 filters. Furnace manufacturers like these spun fiberglass filters because they capture enough particulates to protect furnace systems and allow for maximum airflow. Most New Jersey homeowners opt for the MERV 7 or 8 pleated filter. These filters collect up to 95 percent of impurities 5 microns and larger. The lower MERV filters allow more pet dander, dust, and dirt to circulate in your home. It is a good idea to discuss your choice of the filter with your HVAC professional and then have some sort of reminder for when you need to change your air filters.

For more information on low-and high-efficiency air filters, contact Pipe Works Services We have been serving northern New Jersey since 2000. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Chatham, NJ, and surrounding areas 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

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