cleaning the filter

What is a MERV Rating?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioner Engineers; ASHRAE for short. This rating evaluates the effectiveness of air filters. In order to pick the best air filter for your household, you must understand the MERV rating.

The MERV scale ranges from 1-16. The higher the number, the smaller the number of particles that can pass through it. MERV Ratings are set to measure a filter’s performance in a worst-case scenario.

Most residential homes use a filter with a rating between 7 and 12. These filters are designed to capture hair, fibers, pet dander, plant spores, molds, dust, some forms of smoke and smog, and other small particles (like pudding mix!). These filters cover the primary concerns of homeowners.

So the higher the number the better the filter?

A higher number does not necessarily mean the filter is better for you. Higher rated filters, 13-16 on the MERV scale, are primarily used in hospital and healthcare settings where filtering out microscopic particles and bacteria is crucial. While these higher-rated filters technically do a better job, they are much more expensive and must be changed more often than other filters. They can also restrict airflow and won’t fit in residential HVAC systems. Reducing the airflow in your house can lead to problems bigger than a few missed particles.

Unless you have the need for an industrial filter, a filter with a MERV rating between 7-12 is more cost-effective and practical for residential homes. When installing an air filter in a residence you are unfamiliar with, we recommend starting with a MERV rating of 11 and adjusting from there based on your preferences.

Hypoallergenic filters

If a filter advertises itself as “hypoallergenic” it typically means it has a MERV rating between 10-13. For people where airborne allergies are the main concern, looking for this rating range on your filter will ensure it performs at the level required for comfortable living. Pleated media filters are the most common type of residential filters available. They can have a MERV rating of up to 16 in higher efficiency models.

Knowing your air quality needs will help you decide what MERV rating is needed for your home. Regardless of what filter you use, changing it consistently is extremely important. Leaving a dirty air filter in place for too long can cause damage to your HVAC system. If you have any questions regarding your MERV rating or are having trouble with your air filters, schedule an appointment with us today.


laundry room with a washing machine

How To Best Load Your Dryer

Using a dryer is simple, right? At least, that's what we think. As technology improves, and home appliances get smarter, we sometimes forget the necessary basics. However, they still apply. These tips will help you get the best use out of your dryer. 

1. Read the manual

The manual can have important information about how to best use your dryer. Icons may differ from brand to brand, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the meaning of each one for your particular dryer. If you’ve tossed or lost your manual, most manufacturers have their manuals available for download on their website. We've listed links to the websites of the most popular home appliance brands for your convenience below:

2. Vary heat levels for different fabrics

Just because your dryer is on the hottest setting doesn't mean it's the best way to dry your clothes. High heat on certain fabrics can cause shrinkage and damage. Check the tag on any piece of clothing for information before determining what setting to put your dryer at.

3. Separate different fabrics

If different fabrics have been washed together, like heavy cotton towels and lightweight shirts, they should be dried separately. The friction between these fabrics of different types during drying can damage the more delicate clothes.

4. Never Overload

The drum should never be loaded more than ¾ full. This ensures the clothes have enough room to move and air can circulate. This also helps to prevent wrinkles. If your dryer has settings for different loads like "small", "medium", and "heavy" then it's best to follow your manuals instructions for loading. 

5. Hang your clothes right after drying

Getting clothing out of the dryer as soon as it’s done will help prevent wrinkles. For best results, flatten and hang clothing while still damp to have wrinkle-free garments.

Got any advice to add? Tell us in the comments below! Or, add your own helpful tips.

Woman Loading Plates Into Dishwasher

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Dishwasher

Most kitchen appliances were invented for the sake of convenience. While many people understand how to use these convenient appliances, they don't understand how to get the most out of them. This article will fill you in on how to achieve the absolute best results out of your dishwasher.

Hold on a sec!

Before you dive into this article headfirst, read your appliance’s owner manual. If you’ve lost it or tossed it, most manufacturers have them available for download online. Click on each brand name below for quick access to their online dishwasher manuals.

6 tricks to get the most out of your dishwasher

1. Pre-rinse your dishes

Unless you run your dishwasher immediately after you use and load dishes, you should always pre-rinse. Any dish that has sat in the sink or in the dishwasher for several hours will need extra help removing dried food. If you know you won’t be able to load dishes immediately, a soak in soapy water can prevent food from becoming stuck. When food becomes stuck, it can lead to a build-up in the dishwasher trap. If there is a build-up in the dishwasher trap, take the time to clean it out before running a cycle. It's not the most attractive chore, but you'll notice the results.

Another thing to remember in regards to this is to always scrape your dishes into the trash right after you eat. That way, leftover food or sauces on your plate won't dry and harden. This simple action can help you reduce your time at the sink.

2. Load the bottom rack strategically

Plates and bowls in the bottom rack should face the center towards the spray arm. They should angle dirty-side downward to ensure full contact of water and soap. Flat pans and cutting boards should sit along the back of the rack, also angled downwards. Don’t place them towards the door, it will prevent the soap from reaching the dishes.

Moving the flatware basket (the basket you normally place utensils in) to the center of the rack may give extra space for pans and casserole dishes along the side of the dishwasher. 

3. The top rack is for small items

Cups, bowls, and other small items benefit from being on the top rack. Place all items between the prongs - never on top. The prongs can prevent dishes from receiving even cleaning and leave water spots.

Angle cups as much as possible to avoid water pooling on top. Laying some long utensils flat on the top rack can keep them from blocking the spray arm on the lower rack.

4. Only use fresh detergent

You may want to save money and buy dish detergent in bulk, but the soap will only do its job if it’s fresh. In this case, stocking up does more harm than good, as you may end up rewashing dishes. Buy only what you can use in two months.

Store detergent in a cool, dry, spot. Storing it under the sink where it is too damp causes it to deteriorate and clump. 

5. Be aware of which dishes need to be hand-washed

Cookware with special coatings often needs to be hand-washed. Any cookware made with wood should also be washed by hand, as the detergent can cause wood to become brittle and crack or warp. Make sure to check all your cookware for markers indicating whether they are dishwasher safe or hand-wash only.

6. Group your dirtiest dishes together

If your sink is overflowing and looks like its contents may need more than one cycle in the dishwasher to get the job done, try grouping your cleaner dishes in one cycle and your dirtier dishes in another. This way, you can run a lighter cycle for your cleaner dishes and run a heavy cycle for your dirtier dishes. This will help you save on your energy bill.

If your dishwasher isn't cleaning to the best of its ability, and you are unsure of what the problem is, click here for a breakdown of how you can fix it.

Little girl loading washing machine

How To Properly Load A Washing Machine

Laundry Day. If days were equivalent to bodily functions, laundry day would be a sigh. It's the day where you can no longer bring yourself to put the same unwashed pair of jeans on for the 5th time in a row, or when the funkiness coming from your laundry basket is no longer an insult, but a full-on nostril assault. 

However, laundry day is as certain as death & taxes. So it's best to make sure it's handled the right way. Although loading clothes into a washing machine may seem like the easiest part of doing laundry, many people tend to get it wrong.

Properly loading your clothes can ensure you are getting the best results from your washing machine. Whether it's by saving on the water bill or by achieving the desired cleanliness.  

How to properly load a top-load washing machine

1. Always add your detergent first

This helps the detergent spread evenly across your clothes and helps prevent excess "sudsing". Whether you use liquid, powder, or single-dose packs; the soap should always go in first. Adding the detergent first also lowers the risk of fabric becoming damaged by excess detergent sitting on it for too long. Certain high-efficiency top load washers come with a dispenser drawer; using this will allow the machine to use the detergent at specific times through the cycle. Even if you have a high-efficiency model, you should still get in the habit of adding detergent first. 

2. Never add clothes above the central agitator

Instead, make sure all clothes are evenly dispersed around the sides. This ensures all clothes will be spread evenly enough to be individually washed. Overloading can prevent water and detergent from thoroughly washing clothes that are too tightly packed together. This also helps prevent wrinkles and makes it easier on your washing machine's motor, lowering the chance that it might need a repair earlier than expected from normal wear and tear. 

3. Mix small and large clothing items

Although this may seem counterintuitive, it's the way to go. Mixing small and large items ensures better movement inside the drum of the washing machine. This helps each individual clothing item receive a full clean.

How to properly load a front-load washing machine

1. Use the detergent dispenser tray

Most front load washers come equipped with a tray for detergent, using this will allow the machine to distribute the detergent at the appropriate times during the cycle. If you use single-dose packs, make sure they are put directly in the drum before the clothes to ensure they have enough contact with water to dissolve properly.

2. Don't load too close to the door

Pile clothes high in the machine, but leave space between the load and the edge of the drum. This ensures that your clothes have enough room to move and will get full contact with the water and detergent. Clothing that is up against the washer door extends past the drum and may not get full contact with the water.

Always Avoid Overloading!!!

We all want to get laundry done in one load, but overloading your washer prevents clothing from being thoroughly clean. Water and detergent won’t be able to get to fabrics that are too tightly packed together. Overloading also causes fabric damage as it creates too much friction that can cause fabrics to pill. This can also cause washers to “walk” and shift out of position. Separating clothing into more exact loads is the best way to get the most out of your washer and prevent damage to your favorite fabrics.

If you are consistently loading your washing machine improperly, or if you've had the same machine for a while, you may notice a smell coming from the drum. To learn more about how to end the smell from your machine, click here.