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November 18, 2020
It’s likely that, like many of us, you’ve been spending more time this year thinking about indoor air quality and whether you and your family are living in a healthy indoor environment.
If you’re new to this topic, trying to make your way through all the technical language and acronyms can be frustrating, and many California homeowners have asked us some variation of, “Why do I need to know what all these scientific words mean… I just want to know how to improve the quality of the air in my home and reduce indoor air pollutants.”
One of the most common air quality related questions we’ve been getting recently is about the difference between HEPA air filters and MERV filters. Here’s what you need to know about how HVAC filters are categorized and rated, and how you can find the best filter for air flow in your Davis, Dixon, or Vacaville home.
What Are MERV Filters?
MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a rating system used to tell air filters apart. Simply put, the higher the MERV rating, the better a job it does in filtering air pollutants like dust, pollen, pet dander, mold, and even bacteria and viruses out of the air in your home.
An HVAC air filter has a MERV rating between 1-16. If you’ve never paid much attention to the air filters in your HVAC system (other than hopefully replacing them as needed to keep your heating and central air conditioning systems operating efficiently!), it’s likely that your filters have a MERV rating of 1 to 4.
But that just means there’s plenty of room for improvement! As you increase the MERV rating of your air filter, you’ll want to make sure that your HVAC system is still getting sufficient air flow (which is why it’s best to call a heating and cooling professional if you’re interested in upgrading to a higher quality filter), but there are a number of air filter replacement options that can dramatically improve the amount of air pollutants your HVAC system is removing from the air circulating in your home.
What Are HEPA Filters?
HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air filters, on the other hand, meet stringent air filtration standards—in the US, HEPA filters must be able to filter out 99.97% of all small particles whose diameter is equal to 0.3 μm. HEPA filters aren’t rated on the MERV scale, but they actually exceed MERV 16’s filtration capabilities. If someone in your family has strong allergies, it may be worth thinking about upgrading to a powerful filtration system with HEPA filters.
Another note of precaution—these filters are so powerful that they can’t simply be installed in a normal residential HVAC system without altering your system’s air flow and causing problems for the operation of your heating or cooling system. If you are interested in getting the absolute top-of-the-line air filtration for your home, an expert HVAC technician can work with you to install a HEPA bypass system in your Winters, Fairfield, or Woodland home.
What’s the Best Filter for My Home’s HVAC System?
So what’s better for your home—MERV or HEPA? The answer will depend on the specific issue you’re having! Getting the air in your home tested by an HVAC and indoor air quality expert is an important first step, so that you can better understand how bad the air quality problem is and how powerful an air filter you’ll need to create healthier, cleaner air in your home.
Find the Right Indoor Air Quality Solution for Your Home with Greiner
Our hope is that if you take one thing away from this article, it’s that if you’re looking for the best HVAC filter for viruses, bacteria, dust, and other allergens that may be in your home, you’ll get the best results from a high rated MERV filter or even a HEPA filter.
Worried about breathing in unhealthy air in your home? Are your allergies or asthma acting up more than usual? Smelling an unpleasant odor in your home and wondering if harmful air pollutants are to blame? Reach out to the indoor air quality experts at Greiner, where our whole house experts will take the time to learn about the specific issues you’re having in your home and recommend the best solution for you and your family, whether it’s upgraded air filters or even whole home mechanical ventilation systems.