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What is “MERV”?

Posted 06-07-16 in Air Conditioning

HVAC air filterMERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. 

And the MERV of a filter tells you how well it traps the air contaminants that are floating around your home.

Basically, air filters are given a rating from 1 to 16. The higher the rating, the more pollutants the filter can remove. 

What MERV rating should I get?

The filter rating you choose depends on the level of air quality you and your family need. 

In most situations, we recommend an air filter with a MERV rating of 7-13. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that most airborne products are eliminated when these filter levels are used.

You’ll want a MERV rating at the higher end of that range if you have one or more of the following: 

  • You own one or more pets
  • You or someone living in the house has asthma/other breathing difficulties
  • You or someone living in the house has allergies
  • You regularly have guests in your home
  • You or someone living in the house smokes
  • You live in a highly polluted area
  • You live near high-traffic roadways               

What else should I consider when choosing a filter?

Besides the MERV rating, there are a few other things you should consider before heading out to buy your next air filter:

  • Always check the size of your previous air filter. This can be found by looking for the demensions on the filter itself or by measuring the height and length of the filter.
  • Mechanical or electronic? Mechanical filters are the most common. These filters use tightly compacted synthetic fibers to trap contaminants. Electronic filters, on the other hand, use electromagnetic charge to attract and trap air pollutants. We typically suggest sticking with a mechanical filter as they are cheaper, easier to maintain, and come in a wide range of MERV ratings.
  • Disposable vs. reusable? Mechanical filters are available in both disposable and reusable forms. While disposable filters are cheaper upfront, reusable filters can save you money in the long run. However, reusable filters will need to be washed more frequently as time goes on and they do deteriorate over time. We suggest disposable for easier maintenance.
  • Remember that the higher your MERV rating, the more frequently you will need to change the filter.
  • Consider airflow. If the air filter has a MERV rating that is too high for your AC system, it can restrict the airflow to your system. This causes the system to work harder, leading to system damage and higher energy bills. Learn more in our article on how an air filter can kill your air conditioner.

If you are unsure which MERV rating is right for you, we are always happy to provide guidance and help you replace your old filters. Contact us today to set up your appointment.

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Coolray is your Atlanta-area home comfort expert with specialists in heating, air conditioning, air quality and plumbing. Have more questions? We’d be happy to help – just contact us online

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