If you have an air conditioner in your home, you probably know that you need to change the air filter periodically. If you live in a place with four seasons, you are probably only cleaning or replacing the HVAC filter once a year.

You may think that you do not use the air conditioner for most of the year. However, an HVACs filter needs to be replaced every 3 months. Even if you are not using the air conditioner itself, the air is circulating through an HVAC system constantly. 

Understanding the MERV Rating System

There is a rating system in the air conditioning industry that is known as MERV. the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value was established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers in 1987.

It measures how effective filters are. The rating scale goes from 1 to 20 with 20 being the highest. The purpose of the scale is to determine the smallest particle a filter could capture. Debris particles in a home tend to be from 0.3 to 10 micrometers in size. 

It may seem as though the best filter to use would be the one that anyone should get. However, it is not as simple as that. Each type of filter has different advantages and disadvantages.

What kind of filter is right for you?

A good filter will work in concert with your HVAC system. If you get a filter that is of too high a quality for your HVAC, it might overload your system. The right system should collect particles out of the air.

The higher a filter’s rating, the smaller the particles it can capture. It is recommended that most people get a filter rated between 8 and 13 for their home.

Filters that are of a lower quality than 8 will only be able to collect major debris and those of a higher quality than 13 are actually made for offices and hospitals.

A filter that is rated between 8 and 13, will allow for good airflow in your home. It will not filter out very small debris. That debris will get recycled and you may end up breathing those particles again.

A filter that is rated from 14 to 20 can restrict the airflow in a home HVAC system.

They are normally used in medical facilities and industrial buildings that are cleaned much more thoroughly than the average home. The particles of debris found in these kinds of buildings tend to be significantly smaller than the ones found in homes. For example, it is unlikely that a medical facility would have pet dander in it. They are not as likely to have as many pollutants from outside. 

When you are ready to buy your filters, you should read the owner’s manual for your HVAC system or look for information online. It should tell you the size of the filter you need. You can also look at the old filter to determine what size you will need. Sometimes the size is written on the side and sometimes it is not.

You can consult a MERV rating chart to figure out the grade of filter that is right for you.

The air you breathe is very important to your health. When you change your filters regularly and you clean on a regular basis, your home can be a safe and healthy place.

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