Decoding HVAC Air Filter Ratings | Team Bob'sMany homeowners are surprised that the HVAC air filter is a critical component of their cooling and heating system. A high-quality and clean filter promotes energy efficiency and system durability. Just like other characteristics of HVAC systems, manufacturers go by a rating system to make selection easier.

Decoding Filters

Residential air filters have MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) ratings that span from 1–16. Higher ratings indicate that the filter can trap smaller particles to keep them out of the blower compartment and your home’s air.

Air filters that exceed 16 are called HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters and are used in environments where it’s important to minimize any airborne particulates and contaminants. A HEPA air filter isn’t suitable for residential HVAC systems unless it’s part of a separate air filtration system that attaches to the blower compartment.

Best Filters for Home Use

The inexpensive fiberglass filters have MERV ratings from 1–4 and only keep out the largest particulates. Pleated filters have higher ratings that range from 5–12. Their media is denser so they trap smaller particles, and they have more surface area for better entrapment and durability.

Filters in this range are suitable for most HVAC systems, but before installing one for your system, check the owner’s manual or contact your HVAC contractor. As the MERV rating increases, filters get denser, and they slow the air flow rates going through it.

HVAC systems require a specific amount of airflow, and when it’s too low, problems occur for both the cooling and heating cycles.

Changing the Filters

If you opt for an air filter with a higher MERV rating, check it monthly and change it when it’s dirty. A higher quality filter will trap more particulates, and needs changing more often to keep your system clean and air quality high.

Choosing the most suitable HVAC air filter for your home’s system improves its performance and your indoor air. If you’d like more information, contact Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing, providing HVAC services for homeowners in Grand Traverse County and the surrounding areas.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air filter ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 231-714-6196.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Palto/Shutterstock”