How to Find the Best Air Filter for Home Use

If you're looking for a new air filter, don't just settle for the cheapest one you can find. A cheap air filter equals a weak air filter. If you're going out of your way to buy an air filter, you may as well get the best air filter for home use.

But how do you know which filter that is?

Take a look at this air filter guide to find the best air filter for home use.

What Is an Air Filter?

Your air filter is the thing that's going to trap all those harmful and unwanted pollutants from your home. That means things like dust, hair follicles, pollen, and other debris won't be circulating through your home.

If you have an HVAC system (it could be an air conditioning system, a heating system, or even just a ventilation system), you have an air filter. Because air gets forced through this system, it's important to stop any allergens from getting forced out with it.

Why Do I Need an Air Filter?

If your family doesn't have any allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions, you may not think you really need an air filter in your house. But this couldn't be further from the truth.

Indoor air quality is actually worse than outdoor air quality. In fact, the number of harmful materials inside the home can be up to 10 times worse than outside.

This is pretty gross to think about, but it's a good reminder that every home, no matter who lives inside, should have a good air filter.

All Air Quality Talk Aside...

Even if you don't suffer from respiratory conditions, breathing in dusty, dirty air can have a negative impact on your health. Continued exposure to this type of air could leave you with irritated eyes, coughing, and sneezing. For people who already have asthma or allergies, the side effects can be even more serious.

In the worst cases, living with this kind of air can actually cause asthma attacks for people who've never had any problems with asthma before. Of course, this is only in the most serious situations, and you probably don't have to worry about symptoms that bad. If you have dirty air, be prepared for some respiratory irritation.

Does a Filter Really Fix the Problem?

Air filters block these pollutants from getting into the air of your house, so yes, they definitely get the job done. But they only continue to work well if you maintain them.

You should change your filter (or clean it depending on what kind you have) at least once or twice a year. If they aren't cleaned enough, the filters will have a harder time doing their job and pollutants will find their way back into your home.

How Often Should I Change My Filter?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Some filters last a few months while others can last nearly a whole year. When you get your filter installed, ask the manufacturer how long the filter should last. They'll be able to give you at least a rough time frame.

If you aren't sure how often your filter needs to be changed, you can start by asking yourself a few questions.

Does Anyone In Your House Have Allergies or Asthma?

If the answer is yes, you'll probably need to change your filter more often than recommended.

Do You Own Any Pets?

When pets shed, their fur gets into the air and makes its way into the filter. This may also mean you should change the filter sooner than recommended.

But the only real way to find out for sure if your filter needs to be changed is to check it. If it looks dirty and full of debris, you should replace it. And don't wait for it to get too bad. That will just make the air quality in your home worse.

So What's the Best Air Filter for Home Use?

The biggest and best quality of any air filter is the thickness. The thicker the filter, the more pollutants it can block and the cleaner your air becomes.

Most air filters are only one inch thick, and these are the type you'll want to stay away from if you can. Do your best to find filters that are three to five inches thick instead. These are the best air filters for home use because they can keep your air cleaner than smaller filters.

I Have a One-Inch Filter Right Now, but I Want a Three-Inch

It's possible to upgrade to a different thickness, but it might not be something you can do on your own.

If you have a one-inch filter right now, a five-inch filter probably won't fit in your system. In most cases, you can call a professional to modify your duct work so you can get a thicker filter.

Terms to Know Before You Shop

You'll see these terms pop up when you're shopping for the best air filter for home use, so it's good to know what they mean. That way, you can be sure you're getting the right filter for your family.

MPR: This stands for Micro-Particle Performance, and it rates how many particles smaller than 1 micron the filter can block. The best filters usually have a rating somewhere around 1500 to 1900.

MERV: This stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter. If you're looking for the best, don't settle for anything much lower than a 10.

HEPA: This stands for high-efficiency particulate-arresting, and it reduces the amount of dust that gets blown through your system. A filter like this is beneficial for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions, but it may not make much of a difference for other families.

FPR: This stands for Filter Performance Rating, but you don't need to worry about this term unless you are shopping for filters at Home Depot. The rating goes from 1 (weakest filter) to 10 (strongest filter), but only Home Depot uses this rating.

Finding the Best Air Filter for Home Use

Your family spends a lot of time in your home, so the air inside should be safe and healthy. The best way to keep the air a good quality is to get a strong air filter. Not having the right air filter, or not changing it often enough, can lead to respiratory issues.

Need help finding a place to buy your filter? Take a look at some of our options.