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What Does Your Home Air Filter Say About Your HVAC System?

24.11.21 11:17 PM By Brandon

Lets Talk About your Home Air System

Besides being one more thing on your to-do list every 1-3 months, your home air filter plays an important role in keeping you and your loved ones healthy, helping you get the best performance out of your HVAC system, and in saving you money. Here are three things you may not have known about your air filter. 

shower head against wall tile

Keeping You and your Family Healthy

If you struggle with allergies and you just cant get over that runny nose and sneeze; it could be because your air filter is clogged with pollen and debris. 

Each filter is given a rating based on how well it blocks the debris that you shouldn't be breathing. It's called the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or "MERV" for short. 

The cheapest and least effective filters are a flat, loosely woven, spider web of fiber glass or natural fibers with a MERV rating of 1-4. The next level is a fabric filter with a MERV rating of 3 or higher. This level of filter introduces pleats to the design which increases the surface area to catch and retain more particles.

The MERV rating goes all the way up to 16 - increasing in thickness and quality. Keep in mind, a level that high can decrease the efficiency of your system because it starts to restrict airflow even when it's a brand-new filter. 

Most people do not need a filter that advanced, known as High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters with the highest MERV ratings are most often used in healthcare and scientific facilities. It is recommended to use a filter with a MERV rating of at least 8. If you or a loved one suffers from any type of severe breathing difficulties, consider purchasing a filter with a MERV rating of at least 9-12. 

shower head against wall tile

Keeping You and your Family Healthy

If you struggle with allergies and you just cant get over that runny nose and sneeze; it could be because your air filter is clogged with pollen and debris. 

Each filter is given a rating based on how well it blocks the debris that you shouldn't be breathing. It's called the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or "MERV" for short.  


The cheapest and least effective filters are a flat, loosely woven, spider web of fiber glass or natural fibers with a MERV rating of 1-4. The next level is a fabric filter with a MERV rating of 3 or higher. This level of filter introduces pleats to the design which increases the surface area to catch and retain more particles.

The MERV rating goes all the way up to 16 - increasing in thickness and quality. Keep in mind, a level that high can decrease the efficiency of your system because it starts to restrict airflow even when it's a brand-new filter. 


Most people do not need a filter that advanced, known as High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters with the highest MERV ratings are most often used in healthcare and scientific facilities. It is recommended to use a filter with a MERV rating of at least 8. If you or a loved one suffers from any type of severe breathing difficulties, consider purchasing a filter with a MERV rating of at least 9-12. 

Watching your HVAC Performance

So you've been checking your filters, but they aren't getting as dirty as you expected. That could spell an issue! Here are a few things to check:

- Make sure that the filter fits properly in the air intake. It should fit snugly into the space provided. If it's not, you may be using the wrong size filter. Measure the intake opening and compare it with the dimensions on the side. If it matches, it could be something else. If it doesn't match, you may have found your problem.

- Have you been running it as often as you normally do? If your system has been working part-time because of nice weather, so has your filter. It only gets dirty when the system is up and running.

shower head against wall tile

- If you haven't been giving your system a break, make sure it's running as often as it should. Generally speaking, your HVAC system should be running for 15 minutes a cycle, and no more than 3 cycles per hour. If it isn't, give us a call to take a look at it for you.

If you didn't check any of those boxes, you may just have a spotless house! Take it as a compliment and keep up the good work! 

shower head against wall tile

Watching Your HVAC Performance

So you've been checking your filters, but they aren't getting as dirty as you expected. That could spell an issue! Here are a few things to check:

- Make sure that the filter fits properly in the air intake. It should fit snugly into the space provided. If it's not, you may be using the wrong size filter. Measure the intake opening and compare it with the dimensions on the side. If it matches, it could be something else. If it doesn't match, you may have found your problem.

- Have you been running it as often as you normally do? If your system has been working part-time because of nice weather, so has your filter. It only gets dirty when the system is up and running.

- If you haven't been giving your system a break, make sure it's running as often as it should. Generally speaking, your HVAC system should be running for 15 minutes a cycle, and no more than 3 cycles per hour. If it isn't, give us a call to take a look at it for you.

If you didn't check any of those boxes, you may just have a spotless house! Take it as a compliment and keep up the good work! 

Saving Money with your Air Filter

Yes, it's normal to feel disgusted when you change out your air filter. It's full of dust, pollen, pet hair, and other airborne debris that you would have otherwise breathed in. If you're like most homeowners, it has probably been too long since you last changed it out. A dirty air filter is costing you money.

Since your HVAC system relies on a constant flow of clean air to function efficiently, the dirt in your old air filter is making your HVAC system work harder. That reduces its efficiency and ultimately its lifespan.

It is recommended to change out your air filter every 1-3 months. It varies based on the time of year, how well your house is sealed, if you have pets, and how often you vacuum/clean your home.

    

If you are unsure how often to change your filter, or if you are experiencing any irregularities with your HVAC system, ONE Service Pros are happy to help. One call, we do it all! Give us a call at 865-351-0241 or visit our website to schedule an appointment today!