If you have been shopping for a new air filter for your home, then you know that there are many different options available, and it can sometimes be difficult to determine exactly what choice is going to be the best for your residence. You may have also seen the term MERV associated with the various air filters you have been considering and you are wondering what these mean and how it will affect your buying decision.
Using MERV to Determine the Right Air Filter
MERV is an acronym that stands for Minimum Efficiency Report Value, and it lets the consumers know how efficient that air filter will be when dealing with different types of particulates in the air. The higher the MERV the more efficient the air filter. The rating can be used as a guide when determining which air filter should be used for your home. However, it is important to keep in mind that even though the higher rating means that the air filter will remove a larger percentage of the airborne contaminants in the home, it does not mean that you should always get the MERV that has the highest value, as you will see below.
Consider the Size
One of the first things that you need to consider when you are choosing any type of filter, whether they are furnace filters or your MERV filters, is the size. If you have a filter that does not fit properly, it is going to allow for pollutants to enter the home regardless of the MERV rating. In addition, there could be debris that gets in around the edges of a filter that does not fit correctly, and this could cause damage to your HVAC system, which would then require repairs.
If a filter doesn’t seem like it is going to fit because it is too large, never force it into place. This will only end up causing more problems for you. Similarly, if it is too small, do not try to figure out a way to hold it in place. When you are choosing an air filter, always be sure to find the number on the current air filter, or take a measurement, to make sure you are getting the correct size.
The Right MERV for Your Home
You will have a range of options from which you can choose when it comes to the MERV rating. The cheapest of the air filters that can be used in a residence tend to be MERV 1 through MERV 4. While these are cheap, they are not always the best solution for your home. Those who have window units will likely be using these filters, which is fine, but they will need to be replaced a couple of times per year to ensure proper airflow.
MERV 5 through MERV 8 tend to be of a higher quality, and they have the capacity to trap more particles in them, which can allow for cleaner air in the home. They will typically be able to trap between 20% and 70% of the particles, and these can be a decent option for those homes that do not have any pets and that do not have people who suffer from severe allergies or respiratory issues.
Those who want to have more protection from pollutants in the air for their health, and/or those who have pets with dander will want to find MERV air filters with a rating between 9 and 12. They can provide a higher level of cleanliness in the air, but you may find that your HVAC system needs modifications to work with MERV 12 filters.
With the understanding of the MERV rating and knowing that you need to find an air filter that is going to fit correctly, you should have a much easier time making your selection.