What to Know About HVAC Air Filter Ratings

What to Know About HVAC Air Filter RatingsYour HVAC air filter may not look like much, but it’s a critical component of your home HVAC system. It’s the first line of defense in your indoor air quality, and the first line of defense against airborne particulates such as dust getting into the sensitive inner components of your central HVAC units. Savvy homeowners know the should be replacing the air filter once a month — but how do you know what kind of filter to get?

Air filters are rated according to their Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV. The MERV is a number from 1-20, though 1-16 is the range usually considered to be for home use. High Efficiency Particulate Air, or HEPA filters can be considered to have MERV ratings from 17-20. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller particles can be caught by the filter.

  • MERV 1-4 catches larger particles such as pollen, insect debris, dust mites, and carpet fibers.
  • MERV 5-8 also catches particles like pet dander, mold spores, and fungal spores.
  • MERV 9-12 also catches particles like auto emission particles, lead dust, and particles the size of milled flour.
  • MERV 13-16 also catches bacteria, many forms of smoke, and powder as fine as face powder or insecticide dust.
  • HEPA filters also catch particles as small as viruses.

So, should you automatically buy the highest MERV filters that fit your system? Not necessarily. The finer the filter, the more work it takes to push air through it. Every HVAC system has a recommended filter range determined by the power of its air handler’s fan; buying filters above that recommended range can lead to fan strain, and eventually burnout. Always consult your owner’s manual.

To learn more about your HVAC air filter, or about improving the air quality in your home, call us up at Cool Power today! We’re always happy to help our Long Island neighbors reach their home comfort goals.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hauppauge, New York and the Long Island area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC air filter ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 631-292-0629.

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