Do Air Filters in Commercial Buildings Really Matter That Much?

People gathered in an enclosed office, demonstrating the need for air filters in commercial buildings.

You manage a property that’s filled with offices where people talk, laugh, shout, sing, sneeze, and cough, spraying moisture filled with germs into the air. People track dust, dirt, and grime into the facility on their shoes. They release sweat and lose skin follicles. All those tiny particles infiltrate the air inside of a building. So if you’ve ever wondered if the air filters in commercial buildings really matter that much, here is your answer:

YES. The air filters in commercial buildings really matter!

When it comes to maintaining clean and healthy air, understanding the role of air conditioner filters in commercial buildings is critical. Not only is it important to change them regularly, but the type of air conditioner filter you use can significantly impact your indoor air quality.

The Importance of Air Quality

One result of the global pandemic is that many people have become more aware of air quality. It affects every single breath we take, yet we often don’t give it a second thought – or at least we didn’t until COVID struck.

Now, more people think about the air we breathe.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals that the concentration of air pollutants inside a structure can be 2 to 5 times higher than that outside. This statistic underscores the potential health risks associated with poor air quality within the confines of your commercial space.

The MERV Rating for Air Filters in Commercial Buildings

The primary purpose of air filters is to remove impurities and contaminants from the air, but not all filters are created equal. Evaluating the efficiency of air filters is crucial to ensuring clean air in your commercial building. One widely used rating system for filters is the MERV rating, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.

A MERV rating ranges from 1 to 16, with 16 being the most efficient at filtering contaminants.

A filter with a MERV rating of 1-4 only filters out about 20% of larger particles (3-10 microns) and none of the smaller ones.

In contrast, a filter with a MERV rating of 16 can capture as much as 95% of contaminants, including those as small as 0.3 microns.

To put this into perspective, a single human hair is approximately 70 microns in size. The best-rated MERV filters can capture particles as tiny as 0.000012 of a micron. This level of filtration significantly reduces dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, and chemical pollutants, greatly improving the air quality within your commercial space.

MERV ratings apply to air filters in commercial buildings, but they also apply to air filters in your home.

Alternative Rating Systems

While MERV ratings are the most common and recognized, alternative systems like MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating) and FPR (Filter Performance Rating) exist. These systems generally follow the same principle: a higher rating corresponds to better filtration and improved air quality.

The HEPA Filters

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter. It’s a pleated filter that pulls out 99.97% of dust, pollen, bacteria, and mold before it gets into the air you breathe. Anything that goes airborne with a size of .3 microns is captured.

Choosing the Right Air Filters

When selecting an air conditioner filter for your commercial HVAC system, several factors come into play:

  • Filter Quality: The Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (SHRACE) recommends a minimum MERV rating of 6, with a preferred range of at least 8. Many experts believe that a MERV rating of 13 is the right choice for non-medical buildings. Higher-rated filters offer superior performance.
  • Filter Thickness: Thicker filters have greater particle-capturing capacity. Some HVAC systems can accommodate thicker filters, so choose accordingly. Just because there’s an ultra-thick, highly-rated filter doesn’t mean you should purchase it. Not all systems can use thicker than 1” filters. It’s even possible if you put a filter in that your system isn’t designed for, you could damage your unit. Too much filtration could cause a drop in air pressure which, in turn, could cause your blower to work harder. The harder your blower must work, the greater the chance of a malfunction.
  • The size of filter you need is listed on your current filter, and some filters even contain a minimal size, which may be up to 5/8ths of an inch smaller than the ideal size. The air filter should cover the vent opening exactly.
  • Cost vs. Benefits: While higher-rated filters may be more expensive, they improve air quality and require less frequent replacement, making them cost-effective in the long run.
  • Health Considerations: Research by the EPA indicates that filters with MERV ratings of 7-13 are nearly as effective as HEPA filters at controlling indoor particles. Filters with MERV ratings of 11-13 can improve respiratory conditions and reduce fine particulate pollution.

Choose wisely: Air Filters in Commercial Buildings

Remember that not all HVAC systems can accommodate thicker filters. Using a filter that your system isn’t designed for could damage it. Excessive filtration may lead to a drop in air pressure, causing the blower to work harder and increasing the risk of malfunctions.

To find the right filter for your system, check the size of your current filter or consult the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Talk to Elite Heating and Air Conditioning

The best option is to talk to Elite Heating and Air Conditioning of South Jersey. They can get you on a Customized Commercial Care plan designed specifically for your building. Elite Heating and Air Conditioning is an expert with more than 25 years of experience who will help you manage the type of filters you need and how often you should change them.

We have options for you.

If you want to breathe better, talk to Elite!

“No excuses. Just results.”