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What Does MERV Mean and How Can I Use It to Pick Air Filters?

air-fliter-cuIf you’re looking for a great air filter, you need to know the term MERV. MERV is an acronym coined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers (ASHRAE) meaning Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV is a scale used to measure the efficiency of an air filter. Air filters are rated from 1-16. MERV might be a new term to you, but it’s routine to our knowledgeable technicians trained to get you the best air conditioning in Oak Park, IL.

In Simple Terms

The MERV scale allows you to compare air filters from different manufacturers on a balanced scale. As a consumer, it’s important to understand how MERV works in the context of a residential space. A higher rating doesn’t mean that the air filter is superior. A low rating on the scale indicates that an air filter is better at catching larger particle sizes while a high rating indicates that an air filter is better suited to catch finer particle sizes.

Which MERV Rating is Right for My Home?

1-4 MERV Rating

Type of Filter: A filter in the 1-4 MERV category is typically a disposable synthetic panel liner or a washable aluminum mesh liner.

Capability: These filters remove airborne particles that could damage your air conditioner but don’t purify the air in your home.

Best Suited For: Low rated filters are best suited for window units and residential AC.

5-8 MERV Rating

Type of Filter: This range of MERV filters are disposable cotton blend filters or synthetic cartridge filters.

Capability: These filters improve the air quality of your home through the removal of mold spores and mid-size dust particles.

Best Suited For: Most residential homes will have filters with MERV ratings in this range. A filter with this rating is best for higher grade residential homes, commercial buildings, and industrial workplaces.

9-12 MERV Rating

Type of Filter: The filters in this range are deep pleated bag filters and cartridge style box filters.

Capability: These filters remove contaminants like particle size legionella, dust, and fumes from the air at a high capacity. They need servicing more often than lower grade filters because of the high capacity of contaminant they sift from the air.

Best Suited For: These filters are the highest grade that can go into a residential home. They’re placed in high-quality commercial buildings and hospital labs.

13-16 MERV Rating

Type of Filter: This group of filters uses fiberglass or synthetic bag filters and cartridge style box filters.

Capability: These filters remove all bacteria, most tobacco smoke, and the smallest sized particles of dust from the air.

Best Suited For: Filters with this high of a rating are almost exclusively reserved for sterile spaces like inpatient care rooms, surgical rooms, smoking lounges, and high-grade commercial buildings where airborne contaminants need to be eliminated. It isn’t recommended to use these types of filters for a residential space because they greatly restrict airflow and can work against your HVAC system.

Have ServiceMax Help

If you’re wondering which MERV rating is right for you, have one of our expert technicians from ServiceMax assist you in your selection. At ServiceMax, we’re dedicated to delivering the best quality heating and cooling services to The Chicagoland Area. We pride ourselves on the satisfaction of our customers.

Contact one of our reliable crewmembers to schedule a service today!

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