Will a Merv 11 Air Filter Hurt Your AC?

Learn about the benefits and risks associated with using Merv 11 air filters in your home's HVAC system.

Will a Merv 11 Air Filter Hurt Your AC?

A Merv 11 air filter has a higher efficiency rating than standard filters, meaning it can capture finer particles and remove more pollutants from the air. But is it too tall for your needs? 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 depend 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 keep up with changing filters, you are unlikely to experience any filter-related issues with your HVAC system. However, there is also a positive consequence that comes with low airflow. In a humid climate, the air conditioner will dehumidify better. That's only a benefit as long as the airflow isn't so low as to convert condensate to ice.

A MERV rating of 13 to 16 is considered hospital-level air quality, so it's unlikely that your home will need more than that. According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, filters in the 7-13 range often have little difference to higher MERV ratings, but will allow your system to operate much more efficiently.

Using an oven filter with a MERV rating higher than your use case requires can have adverse effects. The thickness of the filter material in a MERV filter 11, for example, is greater than that of a MERV filter 8.Therefore, in order for sufficient air to pass through the filter, a greater amount of energy is consumed. More use can cause more wear and tear, so be sure to maintain your oven regularly. However, MERV 11 filters are not considered too tall for residential use.

Anything greater than a MERV 11 is designed for commercial or domestic households with family members suffering from respiratory problems. A MERV filter 13 is likely to help if the goal is to prevent droplets from passing through. A MERV 8 carbon filter will provide more than enough filtering of dust and allergens and will filter dozens of toxic gases that will pass directly through a MERV 13 filter. When reading the very small print, it does say that there are microfine fiberglass particles in the Merv 11 - 16. Washing them with alcohol or sunlight could break the tall Merv filters a little and release chemical degassing that could be dangerous. A high Merv activated carbon filter could be your best bet between you and any other type of exotic chemical action you have going on. The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 20, with filters in medical facilities, such as hospitals, that have a MERV rating of 20 or higher.

By the way, surgeries have a variety of Merv filters and HVAC systems use Merv filters; in both cases, they don't use fiberglass. MERV 11 air filters are slightly more expensive than a standard filter, but paying a few dollars more per filter is generally worth the extra efficiency. Low-efficiency filters are generally within MERV 1-4 and high-efficiency filters are MERV 13 and later. The same applies to homes with smokers or pets, as MERV 11 air filters better eliminate odors. Based on these characteristics, a MERV 8 is considered superior filtration compared to air filters with a lower MERV rating. Since the MERV rating system is standard, it makes it easier to compare filters with different MERV ratings. Finally, I would say that there is no price for peace of mind and if you feel that a high MERV filter would provide it, you should do so with the caveat that you should replace dirty filters often enough - which can be a week or two depending on the MERV rating, the effective area of the filter and how many particles enter at home.

Raymond Zephyr
Raymond Zephyr

Subtly charming pop culture nerd. Wannabe food guru. Wannabe beer junkie. Hardcore zombie evangelist. Freelance zombie practitioner.

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