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Knowing MERV Ratings Can Steer Your Air-Filter Choice In The Right Direction

August 11, 2011 | Blog

You may have read about the indoor air quality concerns for homes in the Corpus Christi area. Because the air indoors is filled with so many tiny particles that can affect your health and comfort, many homeowners have decided to install new air filters in their HVAC systems. Air filters can be effective at removing such air pollution. They can be effective; unfortunately, they often are not. You see, although some filters remove the vast majority of microscopic particles from the air, others allow the vast majority of pollutants to pass through freely. This difference in the effectiveness of air filters is measured by something called MERV.

MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a scale that measures how good an air filter is at actually filtering the air. The scale ranges from 1 (low) to 20 (very, very high). (In fact, you will rarely see filters with a MERV rating above 16; even hospital operating rooms usually consider 16 to be good enough.)

MERV specifically measures an air filter’s effectiveness at removing the tiniest particles, such as mold and bacteria, from the air. The idea is that if a filter will stop these tiniest particles, it will also stop anything larger as well.

Before you go and buy the highest-MERV filter you can find, you should first check with your HVAC professional. The potential downside of a filter with a very high MERV is that it can make it more difficult for air to pass through, which might cut down on your HVAC system’s efficiency. You can use such filters, but it may require resizing part of an air duct to allow for a bigger filter so that more air can pass through. Partly because of this, many people go with a mid-range filter, with a MERV in the high single digits or low teens. Because the air gets passed through the filter time and time again, these mid-range air filters still end up removing the great majority of particle pollutants.

For a professional opinion on which air filter would work best for your home, contact us at CCAC.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information, click here to download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Mathews CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating services Corpus Christi, TX. To get started, check out our website.

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