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Here’s How to Decode HVAC Air Filter Ratings

Here's How to Decode HVAC Air Filter RatingsHow do you know how effectively an HVAC air filter will safeguard your indoor air quality? The MERV rating was designed to provide a quick basis of comparison between different filter types. Expressed as a number between 1 and 16, MERV actually stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the MERV rating for a filter, the more efficiently the filter performs.

As long as your air conditioner or furnace is running, it’s pushing air through the HVAC air filter. In a typical day, all the air inside your home circulates through the ductwork and filter multiple times. That’s why the quality and efficiency of your air filter matters. Here’s how the various MERV filter ranges stack up by comparison:

MERV 1–4

Usually the least expensive fiberglass panel filters that perform the least efficiently. Typically, these filters remove only the largest particles of dust — the stuff you can actually see — from the air. Smaller invisible particulates, which make up the majority of indoor pollution, escape filtration. Most HVAC professionals recommend immediately replacing them with a higher rated filter.

MERV 5–8

The most appropriate filter choice for most households, this range is dominated by quality pleated cotton or polyester filters. They will remove airborne particulates down to a size of 3 microns. This comprises all lint and dust, pollen, dust mites, and mold spores. Filters in this range offer the best balance between filtration efficiency with minimum airflow restriction.

MERV 9–12

If some family members have particularly high sensitivity to certain airborne allergens, these filters provide an extra level of protection. They will remove 80 percent of airborne particulates down to a size of 1 micron.

MERV 13–16

This high-efficiency range is generally limited to hospitals, clinics and other commercial systems where HVAC systems incorporate high-speed blowers and high-volume airflow. For typical residential systems, however, these filters are too dense and excessively restrict airflow, causing poor cooling/heating performance and reducing energy efficiency.

Ask the professionals at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning for more information about choosing the right HVAC air filter for your home.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Palto/Shutterstock”

Good or Great Air Filter? How Do You Choose?

Good or Great Air Filter? How Do You Choose?Whether your realize it or not, your HVAC unit contains a single air filter that helps to remove dirt and debris from being pumped through your ducts and out into the air your breathe. In fact, you should be changing yours once per month. If you don’t, dirty air filters in HVAC systems can actually cause your system to work harder, costing you more money and potentially resulting in the need for repair service sooner. Use these tips to help you choose the right air filters for your home HVAC system.

  • Ask about the MERV, minimum efficiency rating value, of air filters before buying. Most air filters for your HVAC system will have the MERV rating number on the packaging. MERV ratings are between 1 on the low side and 16 on the high side.
  • Avoid washable air filters. Washable air filters tend to have a MERV rating between 1 and 4 and require regular maintenance. That means they don’t filter much and require a lot of upkeep.
  • Skip fiberglass filters whenever possible. Fiberglass air filters typically have a MERV rating between 1 and 4 too.
  • Look for high-efficiency air filters that have a MERV rating between 14 and 16. These tend to trap about 85% of air pollutants. High-efficiency filters tend to cost the most, but do a much better job of cleaning the air.
  • Choose polyester and pleated air filters if you can’t find high-efficiency ones. They usually have a MERV rating of 8 to 13.
  • Get a recommendation from a professional during a regular maintenance call. You should be having your HVAC system checked at least once per year anyway, so asking what type of filter is best for your HVAC system can save you a lot of guesswork. Your service provider will also be able to change your filter for you that first time and during subsequent service calls as well.

Contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. for more information on choosing a quality air filter for your HVAC system. We can also help you with all of your heating, cooling and air quality-related needs.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “foxie/Shutterstock”

When’s the Last Time You Changed Your Air Filters?

When's the Last Time You Changed Your Air Filters?Did you know that nearly 50 percent of the power you use in your home is used by your cooling and heating system? For this reason, you need to make smart choices surrounding your HVAC system. Doing so will reduce the cost of your utilities. One easy way to help reduce your cooling and heating costs is to change your air filters regularly. Continue reading “When’s the Last Time You Changed Your Air Filters?” »