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Air Filter Fundamentals

Podcast, Air Filter, ListenYou've heard us preach over and over about how important it is to change your air filters on a regular basis. But there are so many to choose from these days and prices vary widely!  We'll help you make sense of it all in this and two subsequent posts on this subject.

What's the purpose?

Furnace filter, Air Filter, Duct filter, HVACThe purpose of an air filter is to keep the coils and heat exchanger inside your HVAC system clean. Dirty coils and heat exchangers can make the system work harder and cause it to be replaced earlier, so keeping the filter clean helps prolong the life of your HVAC system. Since the air in your house circulates past these filters, they also affect the quality of the air you breathe. People with allergies or asthma are especially sensitive to airborne particles like pet dander, pollen, mold and dust, and the right filter will filter out these particles.

What is a MERV rating?

Air Filters, Filtrete, MervWhen it comes to air filters, the most important thing to look for - besides the correct size for your particular system - is the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It is a measurement standard designed in 1987 by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to rate the effectiveness of air filters. The MERV rating is a number from 0 to 20, with most residential air filters in the 4-12 range. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter is, and the greater percentage of particles it can capture. MERV is an industry standard rating, so it can be used to compare filters made by different companies.

As a general rule, prices are higher for filters with higher MERV ratings. Often HEPA filters are rated in the range of MERV 17 to 20, and are the most expensive types of filters. But here is one instance when the most expensive may not be the best!  Most residential HVAC systems may not have enough fan or motor capacity to accommodate higher efficiency filters, such as those greater than MERV 16. Always check your HVAC manufacturer's recommendations.

Installation Affects Performance

How a filter is installed also effects its performance. If a filter is installed such that air bypasses the filter, its effectiveness will go down substantially, so make sure the filter is the right size and it's a snug fit. Plus, most filters are directional, meaning you have to install them facing the right direction. Check for the arrow which indicates the direction of air flow, and install the filter with the arrow pointing towards the duct. Here's another tip: If you have your HVAC system's fan set to "auto" then the air is only going past the filter when your system kicks on. By setting it to "on" the fan will continually move air across the filter, so the air you breathe will be continually filtered.

Most Important Thing

Date Filter, Filter Installation, Air FilterThe most important thing to remember about home air filters is to change them regularly. Even the highest-quality filter won't work if it is clogged with particles!  Check the filter manufacturer's guidelines, as different filters are meant to be changed at different intervals. Plus, if you're doing remodeling, there is construction going on, or you have pets, you will need to change your filters more frequently to compensate for the extra dust and residue in the air. Mark the date of installation along the filter's frame, so you can clearly see when it was last changed.

Important Tips & Advice



You often don't think about your heating or air-conditioning system until something goes wrong. But there is so much you can do to help keep your system from breaking down. We regularly post information to help you learn what you can do to keep your system running, to save money and energy.  Search our many posts, videos, and podcasts, for valuable information that is never a sales pitch. Subscribe to receive an email when something new is posted, so you won’t miss any important tips.

Choosing a Repair Company

Whether you’re talking about heating or cooling, repairing or replacing a system, you want a company that can advise you reliably based on what is in your best interest, not based on what is convenient or what earns them the most money (commissions). We'll help you choose the best solution to fit your needs. Check out our many posts at HVAC News You Can Use and our podcasts.

Going Green

We're concerned about the environment and know all the latest technologies - such as geothermal systems, LED lights, and smart thermostats - that can reduce energy and put more "green" in your pocket!  We've provided HVAC systems in certified LEED buildings and written many posts on ways to Go Green.

The Sign of Service

We are a repair company performing a full range of commercial and residential heating, air conditioning, energy management and comfort products service, maintenance, and installation. We are a locally-owned company serving Nashville-Davidson County and the surrounding counties including Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Sumner, Robertson, and Cheatham.

Who We Are

Our service technicians are fully trained and experienced.  We can tackle the most complicated system to the simplest of systems – from large commercial plants to single-family homes.  Our ownership group of Eddie Hutton, Tony Anderson, Roger Eldridge,  Swaney Powers and Alan Seilbeck have over 125 years combined experience as leaders in the HVAC industry.


We are proud of our dispatchers that respond to your telephone call. When your system is down they make things happen. Our trucks are loaded with most parts needed for a quick repair. You can call day and night 7 days a week. Our normal weekday hours are 7:00AM to 5:00PM. Click on the button below to schedule a service call online. Emails and forms can only be answered weekdays from 7-5.”  

615-832-8500 Online Service Call


Did you know you should service your HVAC on a regular schedule – just like you would your car?  We have specialized maintenance programs to ensure the clean, energy efficient and safe operation of your HVAC systems.  This helps minimize service interruptions/breakdowns and maximize your equipment's lifespan.  All maintenance contract customers are assigned a primary technician that will get to know your facility and equipment and will treat it like his own.  You’ll receive discounts on repairs or new installations, and get priority service when it is cold or hot outside and you need service promptly.  Plus, maintenance contract customers are never charged overtime rates for emergency services after-hours, weekends or holidays. We’ll teach you how to save on maintenance costs by showing you things you can do yourself and when you need a technician. Here are some good posts:  Repair vs. Replace, Things to Try Before Calling for Service, Springtime Tips that Pay Off.


Our team takes on HVAC projects for office, school, retail and industrial facilities. Check out these case studies:

Replacement of a 250-ton Cooling Tower

Ductless HVAC at Brentwood Middle School