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Choosing Air Filters? Don't Let MERV Ratings Confound YouThere’s quite a bit of confusion among homeowners here in Royal Oak, Berkley, Warren, and the greater Metro-Detroit area about air filters. It’s no wonder — with so many sizes, types and price points available. To help cut through the confusion, here’s a basic guide to MERV ratings.

MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Rating Value, is your tool to compare the effectiveness of air filters for home heating and air conditioning systems. The goal of your air filter is to rid your home’s air supply of unhealthy, lung-irritating, airborne particles like dust, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, emissions from cleaning and home improvement projects, and infectious bacteria and viruses. Clean filters also protect your HVAC equipment and extend its life.

MERV filter effectiveness ratings range from 1 to 20, based on the amount and size of small particles each filter is capable of removing from the air. Higher rated filters trap more particles — and smaller particles — than less effective, lower rated filters.

If you’re choosing a filter, consider these basic guidelines:

  • For excellent home dust control and improved indoor air quality, homeowners can rely on filters with a MERV rating between nine and 12.
  • Filters with MERV ratings of 13-16 trap smaller particles, which include some bacteria.
  • MERV values of 17-20 are assigned to true HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. Hospitals and other lab or clean environments also use these filters, but some home systems can be retrofitted to accommodate them.
  • In general, for homes with challenging environments (more contaminants in the air) and/or more sensitive residents (such as the elderly, children or residents with asthma or other lung ailments), a more powerful MERV filter may be needed.
  • For homes with less airborne particles (and mostly large particles like dust) and/or less sensitive residents, a high-efficiency filter may not be worth the cost. Medium-efficiency filters, MERV 7-13, are nearly as effective at trapping harmful particles, according to the EPA. Your local HVAC contractor can help you make the perfect choice for your home.

Do you live in Royal Oak, Berkley, Warren, or the greater Metro-Detroit area and have questions about air filters? Contact the experts at Aladdin Heating & Cooling for professional advice. Visit our website for details or just give us a call.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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Air Filter image via Shutterstock