What Size Particles Do You Want Your Air Filter to Trap? Read OnIf you think the air in your Indianapolis home is clean, you may be surprised to learn that the federal EPA cites the air in the typical home as one of the top five environmental hazards. Your home’s air contains particles such as pollen, mold spores, dust mite debris, bacteria and viruses. Poor indoor air quality can aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms, and may cause other respiratory illnesses in the future. Your HVAC air filter is your first defense against poor indoor air quality. Keeping your air filter clean is also essential for lowering your energy costs and protecting your furnace and air conditioner from dust. Choosing the right filter for your needs is a matter of understanding MERV.

The minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, is a primary indicator of an air filter’s quality. The scale runs from 1 to 16 for residential use (with 17 to 20 classified as very high quality HEPA filters), and higher ratings translate to filters that remove more and smaller particles from your air.

  • MERV 1-4 filters trap only those particles bigger than 10 microns, such as pollen, and don’t do much to improve your air quality. These inexpensive, flat-panel filters usually will serve the basic purpose of protecting your HVAC components from dust and debris, however.
  • MERV 5-8 filters trap particles as small as 3 microns, including mold spores. These medium-quality, pleated filters are fine for most residential air quality needs.
  • MERV 9-12 filters trap up to 95 percent of particles as small as 1 micron, such as Legionella and lead dust. If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or other respiratory illnesses, these filters can help alleviate symptoms and let you breathe easier.
  • MERV 13-16 filters are too thick and dense for most residential HVAC systems, and are primarily used in commercial settings like manufacturing and hospitals. They can be adapted to a home’s HVAC system with equipment modifications, however.

Before you choose an air filter, check the specifications of your system. Some filters may impede the airflow to your furnace, and it’s essential to find a balance between optimum airflow and air cleaning qualities when choosing an air filter.

For more advice about choosing and replacing your air filter to improve your Indianapolis area home’s air quality, please contact us at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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