MERV is a standardized government rating for heating and air conditioning filters. The acronym MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Values on a MERV filter range from 1-16 — the higher the number, the more efficient the filtration.
What a MERV filter catches
A filter with the lower ratings catches the larger contaminants from indoor air. Higher-rated filters catch those and the smaller, microscopic particles. A MERV filter rated at 16 can be used in hospital environments such as surgical rooms, ICU areas and general patient areas. Filters with a lower rating, such as 12, still filter particles as small as milled flour.
Selecting the right MERV filter
It’s good to have a high-rated filter, but problems can result if your furnace is not compatible. The higher the filter rating, the lesser the airflow. Lower ratings provide for better airflow because they’re more porous. Your fan must be able to move the correct amount of air or problems can result. Before switching to a higher rating, consult with a qualified technician. Failure to match a filter with your furnace equipment can cause the blower motor to burn up, damage the heat exchanger and cost you in higher energy bills. Your fan speed may need to be increased when using the denser filters.
Use good judgment — get advice
Your furnace is probably equipped with the filter rating that was originally matched to the equipment. Consult a professional before getting a filter with a higher MERV rating. Doing so will save you time, money and potential problems. However, using a better filter will increase your indoor air quality, reduce allergens and potentially harmful contaminants, and keep your home cleaner. With a filter balanced to your furnace equipment, you’ll have good airflow, efficient heat and cleaner air.
If we can help you with selecting a better MERV filter, please contact us at Amarillo Air Conditioning. We can check your equipment and explain the safe range for your new filter. If needed, we can also boost your blower speed. Call us with any questions, we’re always happy to help.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about MERV filter and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.