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What Is a MERV Rating and How Does It Affect My Indoor Air Quality?

Air Filter getting changed

Of course, you want the highest indoor air quality possible for your home. Air quality directly affects health and quality of life.  With so many indoor air pollutants—from perfumes to dust particles—it can be a challenge to achieve the level of air quality you desire. Air filters are the answer. They effectively filter out dust particles and other airborne contaminants. The MERV rating, established in 1987, is a standard used to rate the level of effectiveness of different filters. 

What Is the MERV Rating?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It is a standard that puts a value on the overall effectiveness of air filters. Higher values on the MERV rating mean finer filtration, or fewer dust particles and contaminants making it through to your home’s air. Below are the MERV ratings for filters and the purposes the different types of filters serve:


  • A 1-4 rating is likely a residential window AC unit.
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  • A 5-8 rating would be a slightly more effective filter for a residential AC system.
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  • A 9-12 rating represents the highest grade for residential AC systems.
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  • A 13-16 rating is proper filtration for use in hospitals and general surgery rooms.
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  • A 17-20 is the highest rating and is best for electronics and pharmaceutical clean rooms.

What Do MERV Ratings Mean for Me?

When picking out an air filter for your residential AC system, look for a MERV rating of 7-12. Better air means better breathing and better health for you and your family members. Keep in mind that to keep your air filtration system working properly, you must change your filters regularly.

How Do I Ensure I am Selecting the Best Filter/MERV Rating for My Unit?

As always, it is important to schedule regular cleaning and maintenance for your AC unit. The next time you call a technician for maintenance, ask about your filter and its MERV rating. If you have any additional questions about MERV ratings and improving the indoor air quality of your home, contact our team at Brummitt Heating and Cooling. Our technicians will gladly ensure you are using the best filter for your AC unit and home.