Air Cleaner Guide: What Is a MERV Rating?

It’s estimated that over 40 million people suffer from allergies in the US. Allergies aren’t just a problem in the outdoors; indoor allergies are also a serious problem, particularly for people who are specifically allergic to dust and pet dander. One of the best ways to clean your indoor air and alleviate a great deal of suffering from indoor allergies is to employ the use of a mechanical air filter, also known as an air cleaner. However, not all mechanical air filters work alike. How do you know which air cleaner will work best for your Oregon City home? A great first step is reviewing MERV ratings with an indoor air quality expert from Clean Air Act.

What Is MERV?

The acronym MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value” and it acts as a scale. This scale was created in the 1940s, along with HEPA filters, as scientists tested nuclear bomb materials and needed high-grade filters to remove harmful particles from the air. The MERV scale runs from 1 to 20 and indicates how efficient a particular air cleaner will filter the air; the higher the MERV number, the better the air filter. However, just because the MERV scale reaches 20 doesn’t mean you should install a mechanical filter with the highest number. In fact, the highest-rated air filter a homeowner should purchase typically has a MERV of 12; this is because filters with ratings between 13-20 are HEPA filters, and these filters are so strong that they can restrict the air flow in your system, which is not a good thing. If you feel you need a HEPA filter for your home, consult with an expert first.

MERV Ranges

Wondering which MERV level may be right for your home? You should always work with a professional to pinpoint this, but here is a quick overview of the scale:

  • MERV 1-4 – these MERV ratings correlate to very low capture rate, and are typically the MERV rating of the standard air filter that comes with your HVAC system.
  • MERV 5-8 – at this MERV level, the filter can capture some mold and mildew spores, pet dander, a good amount of dust particles and some dust mite debris.
  • MERV 9-12 – this level MERV is excellent for allergy sufferers, as filters at this level can capture quite small particles of all the allergens listed above, and even some biological materials.

Adding an air cleaner to your home in Oregon City can be great for your indoor air quality, but always work with an expert for installation, repair, maintenance and replacement of an air filter. Need help? Call the IAQ professionals at Clean Air Act today!

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