It plays a critical role in your home’s comfort level, but how much do you know about your HVAC system and its filters? HVAC—which stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning—is the system that controls the temperature, humidity, and purity of air in an enclosed space. Your HVAC system and its filters are responsible for your home’s thermal comfortable and acceptable indoor air quality. Let’s explore both of them a little more.
What is a HVAC System?
Maybe you’re more familiar with your HVAC system in its simplified term: Central AC. But in reality it’s so much more. The all-in-one system, likely installed in your basement, circulates your indoor air and exhausts it outside. In doing so, it contributes to better air quality.
Also equipped with air conditioning systems and a heater feature, your HVAC system is the central control for the climate of your entire home. When you make a change on your home’s thermostat, it activates heat exchangers, combustion chambers, blower motors, and condenser and evaporator coils within the HVAC system. In doing so, your home is able to reach an optimal temperature.
The HVAC system will heat and cool your indoor air, move air in between rooms, bring in air from outside, and rid indoor air to the outdoors. It will also help to maintain healthy moisture levels (humidity) to minimize risk of mold and mildew—helping to ward off mold allergies. Thanks to the attached filters, it will also provide some purification support.
What is a HVAC Filter (Furnace Filter)? How are they Rated (MERV)?
A HVAC filter, or many times referred as a furnace filter, is a crucial part of the system. A HVAC system can only clean your home’s air with the help of a HVAC filter. In addition to improving indoor air quality and supporting your health, a HVAC filter also protects your furnace (which is what helps your HVAC filter heat your indoor spaces).
To protect the blower fan of your heating system, a HVAC filter traps dust, debris, hair, and other pollutants that travel with cold air via the return ducts. Once filtered, air will eventually reach the heat exchanger, where it is heated. Finally, the air will be delivered to the rooms in your home.
The cycle continues, with cold air traveling through the return ducts—all the while picking up dust, dirt, debris, and other pollutants from your indoor spaces. The HVAC filter is what traps these pollutants, so that they aren’t re-circulated with the heated air.
The ability of a HVAC filter to trap air is linked with its MERV rating—or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, a term used to signify how well indoor air particles between 0.3 and 10 microns are captured. The metric was developed by ASHRAE and spans between MERV 1 and MERV 16, with MERV 16 capturing the most pollutants.
If the term sounds familiar, you might know that it’s adjacent to HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air, which is used to classify high-performing air purifiers. Just like HEPA signifies a certain level of purification, so does a HVAC filter’s MERV rating.
When choosing a HVAC filter based on its MERV rating, here’s what to keep in mind:
- HVAC filters are generally available in MERV 6, MERV 8, MERV 11, MERV 13, and MERV 14 ratings.
- MERV 6 is used for HVAC filters that can capture up to 35% of large air pollutants (3-10 microns), like dust, pollen, and pet dander.
- MERV 8 HVAC filters are capable of capturing up to 70% of air particles sized 3-10 microns, up to 20% of medium-sized particles (1-3 microns)
- MERV 14 HEPA filters capture at least 95% of large particles, 90% of medium sized particles, and 75% of the smallest particles.
What’s the Difference Between a HVAC Filter and Air Purifier—Why Do You Need Both?
An HVAC filter’s main job is to remove impurities such as dust, pet dander, and bacteria from the air flowing through your HVAC system. Not only does this improve the air quality within your home, but it also protects your HVAC system from getting damaged.To ensure that you are reaching every corner of your home, HVAC filters complement the performance of your AirDoctor and add an extra layer of protection.
In order to guarantee proper air quality and an efficiently-working HVAC system, you want to make sure you have the right air filter. The wrong filter will damage your HVAC system – the very system it’s supposed to protect. If you want to purchase a highly effective HVAC filter with a high MERV rating and without suffocating the air flow in your HVAC system, then consider the AirDoctor MERV 14 HVAC filter. AirDoctor’s New Home HVAC filters remove 96% of particles at 1-3 micron in size, with a MERV-14 rating for optimal performance.