What is the MERV Rating of Air Filters?

merv rating of air filters chart

Choosing the Right Filter for Best Home Indoor Air Quality

It’s All About the Air Filter

Besides having the right air conditioner installed for your home by professional AC installers, the best thing to ensure home cooling comfort is your air filter. But when trying to find which air filter to buy, have you been confused? Do you know what the MERV rating of air filters is the right one to buy?

Tiger is here to help! Having provided AC repair and installation across Corpus Christi for decades, our team at Tiger Heating & Air has serviced every type and brand of cooling system. While different units can vary widely, along with what size and type of filter is needed, one thing is always clear – if you don’t have a good, clean filter in place, your whole system is at risk. If you ever need air conditioning repair in the Corpus Christi area, call our team of AC experts at (361) 852-4450.

Not all air filters are built the same. Some filters do a much better job at filtering out harmful air particles. The first step to understanding how to find the best air filter your home needs is by understanding the MERV rating.

very dirty air filter like a MERV

Different Types of Air Filters

It can be difficult to know exactly which air filter you should get for your system. Beyond getting the right size filter for your unit, you have another option to consider – how well it filters out particles. Different people have different filtering needs. Some people need an expensive high-filtering filter, but other homeowners are fine with a more affordable standard filter.

The most common filter required for home HVAC systems are traditional fiberglass air filters. These are flat filters that are usually pleated, which is the superior design for best air filtration. These filters are assigned a MERV rating. This rating indicates how efficient it is at filtering out dirt and debris.

man holding dirty air filter with pleats like a MERV

Air Filters 101: What does MERV Mean?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV ratings typically go from 1 to 16. The higher the number, the more efficient it is – which means the better it stops small particles from getting through to the air you breathe. Most air filters used in homes have MERV ratings between 1 and 4. Typically these lower-rated filters can remove such particles as:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Textile and carpet fibers
  • Sanding dust

MERV Ratings Chart: Small & Harmful Particles in Your Home

There are smaller particles that do not get filtered out by those lower MERV rated filters. The size of these microscopic particles is measured in microns. Any sort of particle that is smaller than 10 microns can typically get through most home air filters with MERV ratings of 4 or lower.

Very small particles that are smaller than 10 microns include:

  • Mold spores
  • Pet dander
  • Aerosol spray
merv ratings of air filters chart

People looking for filters that will block the most particles from their indoor air will want one with a MERV rating of 11 or 13. These higher-rated filters will likely cost more money but will be worth the additional cost with the benefits you receive from having much cleaner indoor air.

High MERV-rated air filters are especially important for homeowners who have the following situations:

  • Have asthma or other respiratory problems
  • Have pets
  • Smoke, or live with a smoker (including vaping)
  • Live in an area with high pollution levels

Anything above MERV 13 is likely not necessary for residential use. Those are extremely efficient filters and intended for facilities that have unique air quality needs, such as medical facilities.

How is a Filter’s MERV Number Determined?

How high the MERV rating is for an air filter is determined from a specific process called The Dust Spot Efficiency Test. This test measures how well the filter removes atmospheric dust particles from the air. Most good filters remove at least 90% of air particles.

Related Filter Problems & Air Quality FAQs

You can learn more about the importance and proper use of an air filter. Check out one of these helpful guides to troubleshoot common AC issues as well as how to prevent big problems from happening.

Why you shouldn’t run an air conditioner without an air filter

Indoor Air Cleaners service & installation in Corpus Christi

Cleaning mold from a filter in a ductless mini split unit

How dirty filters can cause an AC to freeze up

Broken AC Homeowner’s Troubleshooting Tips

AC maintenance service in Corpus Christi

Let Tiger Help You Clear Your Air!

A good, clean air filter is the first step towards ensuring clean air inside your home. Indoor air pollution can be a major problem, so changing your filter regularly is essential. In addition to filters, there are many other great ways to improve your home’s air. Indoor air cleaners and air purifiers can be installed to work with your home’s existing HVAC system to eliminate a whole range of harmful microscopic particles.

Tiger Heating & Air provides Indoor Air Quality services. Call us today at 361-852-4450 to learn more, or you can send us your questions or a request for service by contacting us online.

We also provide professional duct cleaning services to the entire Corpus Christi area.

Running an AC Without a Filter

can you be running AC without filter

What happens when you run an air conditioner when there is no air filter?

If you are wondering if it is okay to be running your air conditioner without an air filter, the answer is simple. No.

An air filter is an important part of your home’s entire cooling system. Just because it may seem like the least expensive component of your entire system, does not mean it is not important.

Will your AC work if you run it without a filter? Yes. And that is unfortunate, but as we will go over, you are putting your home’s system at risk of breaking down and creating a whole host of other problems.

Calling Tiger Heating & Air is the team of AC repair experts here in Corpus Christi. Our technicians are trained and experienced to work on any type of cooling system and to handle any needed repair. All too often we run across air conditioning problems that were avoidable. Sometimes a repair is needed simply because the homeowner didn’t have a clean air filter installed in their system.

Get emergency ac repair in Corpus Christi

Potential Problems of Running AC Without a Filter

Condensation Drain Problems

outdoor unit, running ac without filter

The condensation drain allows moisture to leave your AC unit. Running AC without a filter, it can fail to function. This can cause condensation to accumulate which will likely lead to a leak and damage your entire system.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Your air filter filters out dust and debris, and also even very small particles of pollutants. It is quite amazing what all gets filtered out of your system before the cooled air gets pushed through your vents. But without a filter, there is nothing to stop the dust, dirt, and contaminated particles from getting into your home and into the air you breathe.

If you suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, it will not likely take long for you to feel the negative effects of running an air conditioning system without a filter.

Problems in the Ducts

Dirt that does not get filtered out by a filter makes its way into your ductwork. While this leads to the previously mentioned issue of poor air quality, it causes yet another problem. This creates increased moisture in your ducts which promotes mold growth. Mold in your ducts can be a nuisance, or even worse, for your health.

Other AC Problems

In addition to those main issues that can happen from an air conditioner being run without a filter (or at least a clean enough one), other negative results are possible.

  • Higher energy bills
  • Frozen evaporator coils
  • Air not getting cooled sufficiently
  • Damaged compressor
Running AC without Filter like these can damage your home’s air conditioning system.

AC Break Downs are Likely

Running an AC without a filter can lead to big problems. Without anything to stop the dirt and debris from traveling through your home’s cooling system, the parts inside are going to be affected. They may get covered in dirt and grime and completely stop working altogether. You may need to have certain parts repaired or replaced. You may need to have your entire HVAC system replaced.

Either way, the cost of making sure you have a clean air filter in place is much, much cheaper than all the destruction not having one is likely to cause.

How to Change an AC Filter

Dirty filter, almost as bad as running AC without filter

The keys to changing your air filter are:

  1. Make sure you have the right size of filter and that you install it in the correct direction
  2. Know how often you need to replace your filter

Knowing what filter you need and which way it goes can be very easy. Simply look at the filter that is already in your AC without completely removing it. Note down the size of the filter. For example, it may say 10×20, 16×24, 18×30, or another set of numbers.

Also, filters vary in depth. While most common filters are 1 inch thick, some are as deep as 6 inches.

Then you need to check for which direction the arrow is pointing. When you replace this old filter with a new one, simply make sure the arrow on the new filter is pointed in the same direction.

How often you need to change your AC filter depends on a few factors. Many people find they need to replace their air filter every 6-8 weeks. You will want to replace it more often if any of these conditions apply to you:

  • Pets in the home
  • Many people in the home
  • People who suffer from allergies
  • People with respiratory illnesses

If you have a permanent AC filter, you need to remove it to wash it regularly. Be sure to note which direction the arrow is pointing on that filter before completely removing it. You can use a permanent marker to draw on your system the direction of the arrow so you will never be left wondering.

Clean it with a hose until all the dirt and debris are gone. Dry the filter before you reinstall it.

What if you NEED to run the AC and don’t have a filter?

Running an AC without a filter may be okay to do for only a matter of hours without serious problems occurring. If you feel like you need to run the air conditioner without a filter, then you should have time to run to the store for a replacement filter.

Need a Corpus Christi AC Technician to Help?

If you have any questions about your air filter or anything else about your home’s cooling system, call the Corpus Christi AC experts at Tiger Heating and Air at 361-852-4450.

We are happy to troubleshoot and fix any problem you are having with your AC.

AC technicians at Tiger Heating & Air with air conditioner in Corpus Christi HVAC shop

Tiger AC technicians can also provide professional maintenance service on your home’s entire cooling system. Having us come out to do a thorough check of your system can help us find and prevent any potential problems and breakdowns from occurring.

Tiger Heating & Air technicians are qualified to service any type of air conditioner or cooling system. We provide 24/7 service to the Corpus Christi area and deliver friendly, quality service at a fair price. Read reviews from people across Corpus Christi who recommend Tiger!

Call Tiger at (361) 852-4450 and let us how we can help you today!

Get emergency ac repair in Corpus Christi

corpus christi hvac team of technicians at Tiger Heating & AirTiger Heating and Air has been a trusted name in Corpus Christi since 1984. Whether it’s a repair, installation or maintenance, trust our team of experienced HVAC technicians to be ready to deliver the services you need. We are trained and experienced to service whatever type of heating or cooling system is in your home. We also provide professional indoor air quality services.

We are located off of TX-358, just a few miles from the exit toward Saratoga Blvd from 286 South. Call us for service any time of day or night at (361) 852-4450.

Get a free quote and see why we are the Corpus Christi company homeowners and businesses trust for honest and fair pricing. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed!

We are located just off of TX-358. Heading south, take the exit toward Saratoga Blvd from 286 South. Turn left onto Saratoga Blvd, then 3 miles down the road, turn right onto Weber Rd and another right onto Wow Rd just across the street from the post office.