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Choosing A MERV Filter: What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

Regardless of the season, the air quality in your home is one of the most important factors to your health. In order to keep the air quality levels in your home high, it’s crucial that you have an efficient air filter operating in your air conditioning system. The best way to determine a filter’s effectiveness is to find its MERV number.

MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) was designed to inform consumers how effective a particular filter is at removing harmful substances from the air. By understanding the MERV system, you can be better assured that you will make the right decision.

The reporting value ranges from 1 to 16 for home use. Each number tells you how well a certain filter can eliminate tiny particulates – everything from dust to mold from the indoor air. Filters that possess higher numbers are more efficient at eliminating the smallest particulates than are filters with lower scores.

Below are listed the different capabilities of an air filter at a certain MERV level:

  • MERV 1-4: These are the least efficient filters you can get. They can filter out pollen, dust and carpet fibers.
  • MERV 5-8: Filters rated in this range are good options, but not as good as filters with higher ratings. They can remove mold, cement dust and fabric protecting chemicals.
  • MERV 9-12: The filters that fall in this range are excellent options. They can remove dust from humidifiers, lead, auto emissions and milled flour. On repeated pass-throughs of air, they do a good job of cleaning your indoor air.
  • MERV 13-16: Filters in this range are the most efficient. They can remove bacteria and tobacco smoke as well as a number of other harmful pollutants. They do have the disadvantage of potentially impeding air-flow, however so, they aren’t as common in household use as the MERV 5-12.

Also, each higher-rated MERV score is capable of filtering out everything listed in the lower categories.

If you need help choosing the correct filter for your system, contact the professionals at Blanton’s Heating & A/C. We’ll be more than happy to help.