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What Do MERV Ratings Mean for My St. Louis HVAC System?

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The 101 on Air Filters, Plus How to Figure Out Which One You Should Use in Your Residential HVAC

Air filters are one of the most important, but often overlooked, components of your HVAC system. They not only play a part in the effectiveness and efficiency of your heating and cooling units, but they can also affect the quality of your indoor air.

A dirty filter may be clogged with dirt, dust, and other contaminants that can hamper HVAC performance, causing your system to work harder and circulating pollutants into the air you breathe. If left unchecked, this can contribute to a system failure and premature HVAC installation in St. Louis.

If you’ve ever replaced your air filter, you may have noticed it lists a special rating on its frame or packaging. This is known as a MERV rating and was designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers to make shopping for filters easier. Keep reading to learn more about MERV ratings and how they impact your St. Louis HVAC equipment.

What Exactly Is a MERV Rating?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and acts as a grading scale, measuring how effectively a filter removes particulates from the air that passes through it. In simple terms, the higher the MERV rating, the more contaminants a filter can capture.

That doesn’t automatically mean you should opt for the highest MERV rating available, however. Filters with a higher MERV rating feature a finer net, which can create too much restriction and put unnecessary strain on your HVAC system. The goal is to find a solution that allows you to breathe the cleanest air possible without overworking your heating and cooling units.

A Closer Look at MERV Ratings

MERV ratings range from 1 to 20, but what exactly do these numbers mean? Here’s what you need to know.

  • MERV Ratings 1 to 7: Air filters with MERV ratings from 1 to 7 are primarily used in industrial settings where there’s already decent air flow. Although these filters are more energy efficient, they’re usually not the best for residential spaces. Because they only trap larger particles, your indoor air quality can suffer, putting your comfort and health at risk.
  • MERV Ratings 8 to 13: In general, filters rated 8 to 13 meet most residential HVAC needs. Those who suffer from allergies or asthma, who are located near areas with high levels of pollution, or who have household pets may consider opting for a filter on the higher end of this range.
  • MERV Ratings 14 to 20: Hospitals and laboratories are the main installers of air filters rated 14 and above, which protect against bacteria, viruses, and even sneeze nuclei. These filter options may sound appealing for your home, but with such tight filtration, they require more force from an HVAC unit. Residential systems aren’t typically designed for this and can become overburdened, leading to more wear and tear on your equipment and higher energy bills.

Determining the Right MERV Rating for Your St. Louis HVAC

As with any product, it’s crucial to choose the right residential HVAC filter for your specific needs. Every household is different, so consider factors like:

  • The local environment.
  • If anyone in your household suffers from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues.
  • Whether your household includes smokers or pets.
  • How often you use your HVAC system.
  • Your air filter budget.

For expert advice, consult with a St. Louis HVAC professional. By assessing your home’s needs and the capacity of your heating and cooling units, a qualified technician can recommend a MERV rating that will strike the perfect balance between air purity and system efficiency.

Commit to Regular St. Louis HVAC Maintenance for Reliable Performance

Just like a car, your HVAC system needs routine maintenance to keep it running optimally. Even the best MERV-rated filters can’t do their job properly if the system they’re fitted into isn’t well cared for. With regular inspections, cleaning, and prompt repairs, you can ensure your units remain in better shape for longer and avoid sooner-than-expected HVAC installation in St. Louis.

Your maintenance routine should also involve consistently replacing your air filters – typically every one to three months. Over time, a filter fills up, limiting the amount of air your system takes in. By changing out your filters regularly, you give your HVAC a fresh start and prevent any build-up that could hinder its performance.

With this in mind, the overall upkeep of your HVAC system is just as essential as picking out the right filter. Partner with a St. Louis HVAC expert for maintenance service and look forward to a more comfortable and efficient home from season to season.