5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a MERV Rating for Filters in Your HVAC Unit

Charlotte Miller

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a MERV Rating for Filters in Your HVAC Unit

MERV ratings gauge how effective a filter will be at removing air impurities such as dust, pollen, and dander from the air that passes through it. A low rating indicates less filtration, while a high rating indicates more effective filtration. However, not all MERV ratings are created equal, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for when choosing the correct rating for your home’s HVAC unit. Here are five factors to consider when selecting your MERV rating.

The climatic conditions of your area can determine the best rating you need. High-MERV ratings like merv 13 are suitable if you live in a location with high particulate matter levels, dusty air, and lots of allergens, or moderate particulate matter levels and lots of allergens. High-MERV ratings are suitable if you live in a hot area because heat causes particles to stick together and becomes more difficult to filter. Conversely, low-MERV ratings might be better for colder areas because cold air is less likely to cause particles to stick together. A pre-filter might also be necessary, depending on the type of media used by your HVAC unit.

  • Local Building Codes

Another crucial factor you should consider when selecting a MERV rating for your filter is the local building code. The code will set a minimum requirement for the type of filter you can use in your HVAC unit. If you’re unsure what the code is in your area, you can contact your local building department or look it up online. Adhering to the local building codes ensures that you operate within legal requirements and follow safety guidelines. It also means that the air quality in your home or office will improve because it won’t have any excessive particles floating around from particles that could have passed through an improper filter.

  • Position of Your Heating and Air Unit

If your heating and air unit are on the roof, you’ll need a higher MERVE rating for your filters. It would help if you also considered what environment you would use your filters. If it’s outside and they get exposure to lots of wind, dust, dirt, etc., you’ll want to get a filter with a higher MERVE rating. In this case, you can consider getting a 13rated filter.

Lastly, consider what kind of animals live in the area where your heating and air unit are. Animals like cats or dogs might cause extra pet dander that needs to be filtered out before it enters your home. If you have any animals living near the place where your heating and air unit is, consider getting a 16-MERVE rated filter.

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  • A Narrower Filter will Clog More Quickly than a Wider One

Another factor you should consider when choosing a MERV rating is the width of your filter. A narrower filter will clog faster than a wider one, so if you have a high-traffic area, you’ll want to choose a broader one. A clogged filter can lead to decreased air quality and health problems.: Additionally, a clogged filter can lead to reduced air quality and health problems. It’s essential to change your filters on time or as necessary, depending on how often you use them and how many people live in the home.

However, determining the right size of pores is a balancing act between efficiency and effectiveness. It would help if you considered factors like air quality, room size, furniture arrangement, and the number of occupants to determine which filter type is best for your space. It’s also worth noting that certain filters will only work with specific HVAC units. If you don’t know what HVAC unit you have, contact a heating contractor who can advise you on the best option.

  • Air Quality in Your Surroundings

Another crucial factor you should consider is the air quality in your surroundings. If you live in an area with a lot of smog, you’ll want to choose a higher MERV rating. Allergens are also something to take into account. If you have allergies, or someone in your family does, you’ll want to ensure your filter can remove those allergens from the air.

The last two factors are pets and smokers. Pets shed fur that needs to be filtered out, while smokers produce particulate matter that will get stuck on the filters. If either of these things applies to you, it’s crucial to find a filter with a higher MERV rating, say MERV 13, to handle them.


Higher MERV ratings may be more expensive but could be worth it for better performance. Higher MERV filters are more effective at capturing smaller particles than lower ones. You can also save money on the air conditioning because there will be less dust and debris build-up. Lastly, not all manufacturers make their filters with the same quality materials, so before purchasing, ensure you know which one is best for your needs and purchase accordingly.

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