What is the Risk of Using High-Efficiency Air Filters for HVAC Systems?

Any air filter rated higher than 13 can restrict air flow to the point of damaging the air conditioning system, which would entail an additional expense to repair it. While the highest mercury ratings are the most effective for air quality, they can be detrimental to your HVAC system. The short answer is yes, but it's not really a problem except in extreme circumstances. Most modern HVAC systems have no problem working with higher MERV filters, which is why millions of homeowners rely on them. The main risk of high-efficiency air filters is that they remain unchanged for long periods of time.

If you're dedicated to changing filters regularly, it's unlikely that you'll experience any filter-related problems with your HVAC system. A MERV 11 air filter has a higher efficiency rating, meaning it can capture finer particles and remove more pollutants from the air. But is the MERV 11 too tall for your needs? Good luck with your decision to use higher MERV filters in the future. Of course, they are not a bad thing. Reducing the amount of dirty particles in the air in your home is a very common request. It's only important to ensure that the rest of the system is configured to handle the increased restriction created by filters.

The Awair Element indoor air quality monitor is one of the best tools for monitoring how good or bad your IAQ really is and whether or not your filters keep PM2.5 levels low enough. While air filters with a MERV of one to four are effective at removing large particles, such as carpet fibers, airborne paint droplets, and sanding dust, they cannot help with contaminants such as hairspray, mold spores, or even flour that could have escaped from the mixer. The goal of using a MERV 12 or higher filter is a better IAQ: cleaner, more breathable air for everyone, and especially for people with allergies, asthma, COPD, etc. Choosing the right Merv classification is an important decision in terms of total cost, air quality and product durability. With all due respect Allison, I question the need for MERV 13 filtration. Although the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) suggests MERV 13, it may not be the most efficient option for some residential HVAC systems.

Not all filters have a MERV rating; many are purchased in large stores. It's best to comply with the oven manufacturer's recommendations or consult an HVAC professional to determine exactly which MERV rating is best for your specific system. A MERV 11 filter only needs to stop 20% of particles in the 0.3 to 1.0 micron range (three to ten times larger than a COVID-19 particle), a MERV 12 only needs to stop 35% of particles below 0.3 microns and a MERV 13 only needs to stop half. However, if you're concerned about outdoor air pollution, family members with respiratory problems, or pets are in the house, then opting for a higher MERV rating might be a good idea. Filters with higher MERV values should be changed more frequently (at least every three months) to avoid restricted airflow that could cause the system to operate inefficiently or even damage it. In addition, high-MERV air filters that contain pleats create much more surface area for air to blow through, which can improve airflow and reduce stress on the system. 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. Air filters with MERV 13 or higher are recommended for those who prioritize air quality and may have to endure asthma, severe allergies and other similar circumstances.

Air filters with higher MERV values may filter more but also increase restriction on airflow. It's important to consider all factors when selecting an appropriate filter for your HVAC system: cost effectiveness, efficiency rating and airflow restriction. Ultimately, choosing an appropriate filter will ensure that your HVAC system runs efficiently while providing clean air for you and your family.

Clint Bouyer
Clint Bouyer

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