How to Choose the Right Air Filter for Your Home

Posted on May 3rd, 2023

Air filters play a crucial role in maintaining good indoor air quality and ensuring your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system functions efficiently. With a wide range of air filters available on the market, it can be challenging to determine which one is best suited for your home. In this blog post, we'll discuss various factors to consider when choosing the right air filter, including filter types, efficiency ratings, and specific needs. At Complete Comfort Systems, we specialize in providing expert advice and services related to air conditioners, boilers, ductless air conditioning, ductless mini-split systems, furnaces, gas logs/fireplaces, heat pumps, radiant floor heat, and zoning services in International Falls, Minnesota.

Understanding Air Filter Types

When selecting an air filter for your home, it's essential to understand the different types available. Some common air filter types include:

  • Fiberglass Filters: These disposable filters are the most basic and affordable option. They are designed to protect your HVAC system from large dust particles but are not very effective at capturing smaller allergens.
  • Pleated Filters: Made of polyester or cotton, pleated filters offer better filtration than fiberglass filters. They are available in various efficiency ratings and can capture smaller particles, including pollen, mold spores, and pet dander.
  • Electrostatic Filters: These filters use static electricity to attract and capture particles in the air. They are available in both disposable and washable versions and can effectively remove a wide range of allergens.
  • High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters: HEPA filters are the most effective at removing particles from the air, capturing up to 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, they are not typically used in residential HVAC systems due to their high resistance to airflow, which can strain the system.
  • Activated Carbon Filters: These filters are designed to remove odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air, in addition to capturing particles. They are often used in combination with other types of filters.

Evaluating Filter Efficiency: MERV Ratings

The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating is a useful metric to evaluate the efficiency of air filters. MERV ratings range from 1 (least efficient) to 20 (most efficient), with higher ratings indicating better particle filtration. Here's a quick guide to MERV ratings and their implications:

  • MERV 1-4: Suitable for basic dust filtration and HVAC system protection. These filters are not very effective at capturing smaller particles and allergens.
  • MERV 5-8: Recommended for residential use, these filters can capture smaller particles, including mold spores, pet dander, and pollen.
  • MERV 9-12: Ideal for those with allergies or asthma, these filters can capture even smaller particles, such as fine dust and smoke.
  • MERV 13-16: Typically used in hospital or commercial settings, these high-efficiency filters can remove bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic particles.
  • MERV 17-20: Reserved for specialized settings, such as cleanrooms, these filters are not suitable for residential HVAC systems.

It's essential to strike a balance between filtration efficiency and airflow resistance when choosing a filter with an appropriate MERV rating. Higher MERV ratings can result in reduced airflow, putting strain on your HVAC system and potentially leading to higher energy costs.

Consider Your Specific Needs

When choosing an air filter, it's important to consider your specific needs and circumstances. Some factors to consider include:

  • Allergies and Asthma: If you or a family member suffers from allergies or asthma, it's essential to choose a filter with a higher MERV rating to capture smaller particles and allergens effectively.
  • Pets: If you have pets in your home, you'll likely need a filter with a higher MERV rating to capture pet dander and hair. Electrostatic or pleated filters can be particularly effective in this case.
  • Local Air Quality: If you live in an area with poor outdoor air quality, such as near a busy highway or industrial facility, you may want to invest in a filter with a higher MERV rating to ensure cleaner indoor air.
  • Odor Control: If you're concerned about odors in your home, an activated carbon filter can help remove unpleasant smells and VOCs.
  • HVAC System Compatibility: Make sure to choose a filter that is compatible with your HVAC system. Consult your system's manufacturer guidelines or speak with an HVAC professional like Complete Comfort Systems to determine the right filter for your system.

Replace or Clean Your Filter Regularly

To maintain optimal indoor air quality and HVAC system efficiency, it's crucial to replace or clean your air filter regularly. Disposable filters should be replaced every 30-90 days, while washable filters should be cleaned according to the manufacturer's recommendations. If you have pets or suffer from allergies, you may need to replace or clean your filter more frequently. Regular filter maintenance can help prolong the life of your HVAC system and maintain its efficiency.

Working with an HVAC Professional

Selecting the right air filter for your home can be a daunting task, but partnering with an experienced HVAC professional like Complete Comfort Systems can make the process much simpler. Our knowledgeable team can help you assess your specific needs, recommend the best filter for your system, and provide expert installation and maintenance services. We are committed to helping you create a comfortable, healthy living environment for you and your family.


Choosing the right air filter for your home is essential for maintaining good indoor air quality and ensuring the efficient operation of your HVAC system. Consider factors such as filter types, MERV ratings, and your specific needs to find the ideal filter for your home. Remember to replace or clean your filter regularly to keep your system running smoothly and protect your home's air quality.

At Complete Comfort Systems in International Falls, Minnesota, we specialize in HVAC contracting and offer a wide range of services, including installation and repair of air conditioners, air filters, boilers, ductless air conditioning, ductless mini-split systems, furnaces, gas logs/fireplaces, heat pumps, radiant floor heat, and zoning services. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to helping you find the perfect heating and cooling solutions for your home.

If you need assistance in choosing the right air filter or have questions about any of our other services, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. You can contact us at 12182832892 or [email protected] to discuss your heating and cooling needs. Let us help you create a comfortable, healthy environment in your home.

Reach Out

Get in Touch

Thank you for considering Complete Comfort Systems for your HVAC needs. Please fill out the form below and one of our friendly representatives will be in touch with you shortly to schedule your appointment. We look forward to providing you with top-notch service!