Is a MERV 13 Air Filter Good for Your HVAC System?

MERV 13 air filters are the highest rated filters designed for healthcare and laboratory environments with excellent air quality and HVAC systems that can handle high-efficiency filters. It is not necessary to use a filter higher than the MERV 13 in the home, as it can restrict air flow and damage the air conditioning system. Another undesired effect of this decreased airflow occurs on the cooling side. The air conditioner has a hot coil on the outside, the condenser and a cold coil inside the air controller.

This cold coil has a specific preferred operating temperature, which is based on a certain amount of hot air flowing through that coil and on the coolant that runs through the copper tubes of that coil. With a higher MERV filter that reduces air flow through this crucial part of the air conditioning system, the cold coil can freeze and form an ice ball, completely restricting air flow. Without giving more details, this causes more expensive problems in the outer condenser coil. The short answer is yes, but it's not really a problem, except in extreme circumstances.

Most modern HVAC systems have no problem operating with higher MERV filters, which is why millions of homeowners rely on them. The main risk of high-efficiency air filters comes from the fact that they are not modified for long periods of time. If you don't stop changing the filters, it's unlikely that you'll experience any filter-related problems in your air conditioning system. A higher MERV rating often means lower airflow, which can cause the system to work harder and consume more energy to do its job.

The MERV scale is not linear; the difference between a MERV 6 and a MERV 8 is almost double in terms of the percentage of particles captured. Air filters with a MERV level 13 or higher are recommended for people who prioritize air quality and may need to treat asthma, serious allergies, and other similar circumstances. A residential system will not accept filters with a MERV rating greater than 12, unless it has been previously upgraded for a higher-efficiency filter. It's best to comply with the furnace manufacturer's recommendations or consult an HVAC professional to determine exactly which MERV rating is best for your specific system.

Filters with a higher MERV rating should be changed more frequently (at least every three months) to prevent airflow from restricting airflow, which can cause the system to work inefficiently or even damage it. It can be comforting to know that the filter that has stopped working isn't as bad as it could be, but it won't do you any good until it's replaced. Keep in mind that as the MERV rating increases, the filter becomes more restrictive and more pressure and energy will be needed to expel air. Although the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends MERV 13, it may not be the most efficient option for some residential HVAC systems.

While MERV 8 is known to be effective at filtering pollutants such as pollen, dust mites, sawdust, mold spores, and lint from the air, a higher MERV rating will further clean the air. If your home heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system is not compatible with the MERV 13, opt for a filter that has the next highest possible rating. Filter technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, and MERV ratings are designed to help us determine the most effective and efficient air filter options for heating and cooling systems and more. The higher the MERV rating of a filter, the less dust particles and other contaminants can pass through it.

Keeping pets would require a MERV 10 to control their dander, which tends to have smaller particles than the contaminants mentioned above. In conclusion, if you're looking for an efficient way to improve your home's indoor air quality without compromising your HVAC system's performance or efficiency, then investing in an appropriate MERV 13 air filter is an excellent choice. However, if your HVAC system isn't compatible with this type of filter or if you have pets at home that require additional filtration capabilities, then you should opt for a filter with a lower MERV rating but still offers excellent filtration capabilities.

Becca Zlatkin
Becca Zlatkin

Devoted social media lover. Lifelong twitter guru. Infuriatingly humble twitter geek. Extreme food fan. General travel junkie. Certified zombie lover.

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