What’s a MERV Rating and How Does it Affect My Home?

What's a MERV Rating and How Does it Affect My Home?The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating assigns your HVAC air filter a number to evaluate its efficiency. The filter installed in your ductwork is the primary safeguard of indoor air quality as well as a preventive measure against system wear and tear.

While a low-efficiency filter probably doesn’t clear the air well enough, a high-efficiency option might be too effective. The MERV rating helps you strike a balance and identify a filter that addresses your indoor air quality issues while not strangling your system airflow.

MERV ratings range from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV, the more efficient the filter. Here’s a general summary of the groupings:

MERV 1-4

Not suitable to sustain healthy air quality, these inexpensive fiberglass panel filters are typically considered “throwaways.” With filtration efficiency that removes only 20 percent of the largest particles of dust and dirt in the size range of 3 to 10 microns, the main function of these filters is to protect mechanical moving parts in the system.

MERV 5-8

Incorporating pleated cotton or polyester filter media, these filters remove up to 90 percent of particulates in the 3 to 10 micron range. This includes mold spores, dust, pollen, dust mites and fibers from carpets and other fabrics. Quality filters at the upper end of this MERV range are usually recommended as the best balance between filtration efficiency and airflow restriction for residential use.

MERV 9-12

Higher quality pleated and rigid box filters make up this category, reserved for residences with specific air quality issues and/or occupants with allergic sensitivities. Up to 75 percent of particulates in the 1 to 3 micron range are captured including lead dust, auto emissions and certain bacteria.

MERV 13-16

The airflow restriction imposed by these high-efficiency filters makes them unsuitable for residential applications. Rated to capture particulates as small as .03 microns including bacteria and viruses, these filters are used mainly in medical facilities.

Ask Paitson Bros. about the right MERV rating for your indoor air quality. We’ve served the homeowners of Terre Haute since 1922.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about MERV ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Palto/Shutterstock”

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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

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