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Are More Expensive Air Filters Better?

It may surprise you to learn that indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks. That's why we've been devoting a series of posts on air filtration.  If you've been watching and listening to our posts, you've heard us talk about the MERV ratings of air filters, and how to select the best air filter for your needs. As a general rule, prices are higher for filters with higher MERV ratings. But here is one instance when the buying the best, most expensive filters those with MERV ratings greater than 16 may do more harm than good.

HEPA Filters

Among the most expensive filters are HEPA filters. Higher efficiency filters with a MERV rating of 14 to 16, are sometimes misidentified as HEPA filters.  But true HEPA filters have MERV values of 17 to 20.  HEPA which stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance - is a special type of filter that, according to DOE standards, filters out 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size… that's 10 times smaller than a MERV 16 filter!  HEPA filters are typically used in biomedical applications to filter out bacteria and viruses. 

More Harm Than Good

True HEPA filters those with MERV ratings 17 and above - are normally not installed in residential HVAC systems. A typical residential air handling unit and associated ductwork cannot accommodate HEPA filters. They do not have enough fan or motor capacity to accommodate the large pressure drop across the dense HEPA filter material. If you install a HEPA filter in an HVAC system not specifically designed for it, it will make your motor work harder because it is getting too much resistance, and this will hamper your airflow, increase fan noise, and cause your system to fail earlier. Check with your HVAC manufacturer prior to upgrading filters to determine whether it is feasible to use more efficient filters.

Let's Get Real

According to the EPA, using medium-efficiency filters, such as those with a MERV rating of 12-13, are almost as effective as true HEPA filters at removing allergens, with much lower associated system and operating costs, and quieter fan operation.  Furthermore, many air particles never go through your HVAC filter system because they are deposited in your living space on your sheets, furniture, and carpet, for example.  So, you still need to change your sheets, vacuum, and do all those house-cleaning chores regularly to maintain your indoor air quality.

Things You Can Do

Here are some other simple things you can do to improve your indoor air quality:

  • Prevent mold by controlling moisture throughout your home.  That means turning on exhaust fans in bathrooms while showering, and making sure your basement and crawlspaces are dry.
  • Fix any leaks in your ductwork, in the roof, around windows and doors, and around plumbing fixtures.
  • Keep your home smoke-free. Do not smoke indoors, don't burn candles and incense, and use exhaust fans while cooking.

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.

Dispatch

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

Maintenance

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.

Commercial

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