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It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you walk into a home improvement store and browse the air handler filter aisle. There are so many to choose from! 

Each brand claims to be better than its competitor. Some have charcoal added, others are simply fiberglass. As a homeowner, you know your air handler filters should be changed every 90 days, but which one is the best one for your HVAC system?

Today, we will explore the world of air handler filters and help you to decide which one is right for you.  

Question mark - questiosn about air handlers and air handler filtersWhat is an Air Handler?

Before we discuss air handler filters, it’s important to explain what an air handler is, what it does, and why you need a filter.

An air handler looks similar to a furnace, with the exception that it does not produce heat. When the air handler fan spins, it pulls air into the intake ductwork and forces it to pass through an air handler filter. The filter is located between your intake ductwork and your air handler unit.

From there, it pushes the air through an indoor air conditioner unit or heat pump. Once the air flows through your indoor unit, it continues to travel through your ductwork and into your home.

Without an air handler, your ventilation system would fail to function. This means your air would not be properly circulated. The air handler also plays a significant role in indoor air quality: Multiple times per day, it forces all the air in your home to pass through your air handler filter. 

When your air handler filter is missing or not compatible with your HVAC system, you will

  • significantly reduce your indoor air quality
  • and lower the lifespan of your system.

More About Air Handler Filters

There is a wide variety of air filters available for HVAC systems. Not only do you need to know the right dimensions for your HVAC setup, but you should also pay attention to MERV rating.

A filter may be the right size for your HVAC setup, but that doesn’t mean it will help your system run efficiently. To keep your HVAC system running smoothly, you should check with a professional heating and cooling contractor like Action Air Conditioning. 

Based on our knowledge of your system’s manufacturer and model, we can recommend the correct MERV rating for your air handler. 

What is Air Handler Filter MERV Ratings?

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is a standard for air handler filters. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller particle size is removed from the air by the filter.

Particles in the air we breathe are all different sizes. Dust, mold, and dander are fairly large particulate matter and can be collected with filters with lower MERV ratings. However, bacteria and viruses are exceedingly tiny and require finer filtration.

If you’re a homeowner looking to improve your home’s air quality to help with allergies, asthma, or respiratory conditions, you may be tempted to buy filters with a MERV rating of 11 or above. This is the highest possible rating for household use, but it’s a huge mistake!

Filters with high MERV ratings require a specific HVAC system designed with enough strength to draw air through these thick filters effortlessly. Only the strongest air handlers can manage a MERV rating above 8.

Using a higher MERV-rated filter on a standard heating and cooling system will lead to a disaster. Your HVAC system will struggle to function, break down, and even wear out prematurely! 

Ensuring the safety of the air in a household with young children or the elderly is crucial, but a high MERV filter won’t solve your air quality problems. In fact, using a filter that catches so much particulate matter prevents the air handler from circulating all the air in your home properly. This means your air quality will be worse, not better, because your air handler isn’t powerful enough.

The Best Air Handler Filters

Most homes are equipped with an air handler that can efficiently run with a MERV 5 to MERV 8 air handler filter. These filters will easily catch:

  • Dust mites
  • Dust
  • Mold spores
  • Pet hair
  • Pet dander
  • Dirt
  • Saw dust 
  • Pollen

MERV 8 are the best air handler filters because they balance better air quality with high HVAC performance. But you need to keep your filters well-maintained.

When you keep your air handler filter clean by changing it every three months or less, your air handler can perform the way it should. It will circulate all the air in your home and force it through the filter so that you can breathe easier.

Do You Need Help Finding the Best Air Handler Filter in Tampa Bay?

Do you know the location of your air handler filter? If not, a certified contractor from Action Air Conditioning can help you! 

During a routine maintenance visit, our technician will show you where your air handler filter is and tell you what MERV rating is best for your system. 

If you are not satisfied with the air quality in your home and want an HVAC system that can handle MERV 11 air handler filters, call us today or come down to our showroom in Tampa, Florida. We have one of the largest showrooms in the Tampa Bay Area. One of our friendly team members will be happy to give you a tour and help you decide on the right system.