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You may feel overwhelmed by the variety of filters out there. Between Merv rating and physical size, the possibilities seem endless, but they really aren’t. We are here to help simplify your filter picking process. 

Let’s start by taking a look at each factor involved in choosing the right air handler filter for your system. Then we will go into filter maintenance and why that’s important. 

air handler filter

Air Handler Filter Size

If this is your first time owning a home, you may not know what an air handler filter is or what size you should purchase. But your cooling and heating contractor does! He or she can show you where your filter is when you schedule your first biannual HVAC maintenance visit.

HVAC systems designs vary and each one has a different size filter. This is why you should never throw away your filter before you buy a replacement. If you forget your filter size, you can check the side of the old filter for its dimensions.

What are Air Handler Filter Merv Ratings?

A Merv rating helps us to understand what the filter material can catch. The lowest Merv rating can catch large particulate matter like dust and dirt. Middle-grade filters grab pet dander and pollen too. However, the highest recommended Merv rating for residential homes (Merv 13) can catch viruses like COVID-19 and bacteria. 

Unless otherwise instructed by your heating or cooling expert, Action Air Conditioning recommends that you choose Merv 12 for the best air quality protection. It is extremely effective at removing allergens and irritants from your air while continuing to be safe for an efficient air conditioner unit or HVAC system.

Can I use Merv 13 or Higher? Won’t that be better?

Just because it’s out there for people to purchase, doesn’t mean it’s right for your system. Some residential HVAC systems have been designed to handle Merv 13. If you have one, then you can use Merv 13, but if you don’t, stay away! 

Choosing a Merv rating over 12 with an AC or HVAC that isn’t built to use one will stress the system.

To understand why this happens, you need to understand how filters work. 

Filters remove particles from the air with their dense material. As the Merv rating raises, so does the fiber density. Denser material means tinier spaces to trap small particles. 

But once you move past Merv 12, the material becomes so dense that air has a rough time passing through. More pressure drop or force is required, and that resistance is something most air handlers can’t handle.

That causes big problems including:

  • Compromised air circulation
  • Damaged motor
  • Frozen coils
  • Shorter unit life

The only way around this is by using a deeper filter. If your system was modified to fit a 5-inch thick filter, the surface area of a Merv 13 filter at that depth would be greater, reducing the resistance to a safe level. This is an alteration that only a professional should tackle.

If you want a higher air quality for your family, contact Action Air Conditioning today. Our technicians can assess your current system and inform you of your options.

Dirty Air Handler Filters

You should always clean your filters for the same reason you need to be careful about the Merv rating. Both dirty filters and Merv 13+ filters reduce airflow! 

When your ventilation suffers, your HVAC system struggles. By changing your filters at least every 90 days, you ensure that your air conditioning and heating is working the way it is intended to. 

Sometimes you should change your filter more frequently. If you own pets, especially ones that shed a lot, the hair and dander might clog up your air handler filter faster. Home improvement projects can also add to a filter’s work, especially if there are activities like drilling and sawing that kick up dust and debris.

It’s important to check your air handler filter every 30 days or so. You can gauge it by the way it looks and how “dirty” it is. If it needs to be changed earlier than expected, it’s better to catch it before it begins to strain your system.

Action Air Conditioning in Tampa Bay

If you want to learn more about your HVAC system or you’re looking to buy a new one (maybe one made for Merv 13 filters) the friendly representatives at Action Air Conditioning are waiting to talk with you

You can rely on us to develop a cooling system that is tailored to your needs. Visit our Tampa Bay area showroom to see the largest collection of energy-efficient cooling systems around!

For more than three decades, Action Air Conditioning has adhered to your highest expectations. It is our goal to provide you with expert advice on the best products available and offer superior services to your door. 

Honesty, integrity, and reliability are what we stand for.