Home Improvement

What Are Merv Ratings? Your HVAC Questions, Answered

Who said, “Clear lungs, fully functioning HVAC system, can’t lose?”

Okay, no one, because we just made that up. However, you can’t deny that having clean air in your home is essential. That’s why you use air filters.

In your home, there are several appliances and systems with air filters, such as range hoods, vacuums, and, of course, your HVAC system. Some have filters that require cleaning, while others have to be replaced.

If you need to replace your air filters, one question to consider is “What are MERV ratings?” Here we’ll discuss what MERV ratings are and how to choose the best filters based on those values.

So What Are MERV Ratings?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It’s a rating that gives people an idea of how efficient an air filter product is at removing pollutants. The higher the MERV rating, the better it is at filtering particulates.

For most residential homes, experts recommend a MERV rating of about 5 to 8. MERV 5 to MERV 8 air filters are good enough to remove dust mites, mold spores, and most pollen. Of course, you can buy filters with higher MERV ratings (10 to 12), especially if you have family members who have respiratory conditions.

Besides trapping dust mites and mold spores, MERV 10 to 12 filters can capture particles as small as one micron (e.g., pollen and automobile exhaust). However, replacing your MERV 5 to 8 filters every three months will be good enough if you don’t have asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues.

More on the Best MERV Ratings to Use

Now, you may be asking, “Is 12 the highest MERV rating?”

The scale is actually from 1 to 16, but you don’t need a MERV 16 air filter for your home. An HVAC MERV rating that’s 13 and above will trap bacteria, viruses, smoke, and other particulates, making them suitable for hospitals and smoking lounges.

As for air filters that are rated MERV 1 to 4, they may be cheaper, but they only trap carpet fibers and lint. Their main application is for window-type or split-type air conditioners.

Should You Change Your Air Filters?

Understanding how to choose MERV ratings for your home isn’t enough. It would be best if you also remembered when to wash or replace your air filters.

It doesn’t matter if you paid good money for air filters with higher MERV ratings. You still have to replace them. If you don’t like buying air filters repeatedly, you can invest in washable air filters, but the downside is you still need to clean them often.

Remember that “every three months” isn’t the set schedule for all homes. If you have pets or live in an area where the pollen scores are almost always high, you may need to change your air filters monthly.

It’s also worth checking with an air conditioner service and repair company to confirm if your units are working well. If you buy air filters often and your indoor air quality is still poor, it could be a mechanical problem that needs to be addressed.

Clear Lungs, Fully Functioning HVAC System, Can’t Lose

Now that you know the answer to “What are MERV ratings?” are you going to buy new air filters soon?

Don’t forget that for most homes, MERV 5 to 8 products are good enough to filter out dust mites, mold spores, and most pollen. For more related tips and advice, you may check out our other posts.

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Hi, this is Hugh Hook. I’m here to share my insights on a wide variety of home improvement topics. I hope that my site becomes a platform for your inspiration on green living and DIY projects.
Hugh Hook
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