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Whether it’s in our homes, workplaces, or schools, air filters are key components to keeping unwanted (and most of the time invisible) particles out of the air. The MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating system is used to grade the performance of the most common residential and commercial filters found on the market. The higher the rating number, the better the filter performs at removing smaller sized particles from the air. In return, the higher MERV rated filters are more expensive and have a greater effect on the static pressure of an HVAC system.

With COVID-19 still looming, air filtration is a key component to the reopening guidelines for schools and businesses. MERV-13 and higher rated filters are proven to capture small particles, including viruses, and are actively being installed in many facilities in response to the pandemic. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters have also been gaining popularity as they are extremely efficient (99.97%) at removing microscopic particles from the air, and their presence has also become more desirable. A HEPA filter is one that exceeds the maximum MERV-16 rating, and they are mostly found in hospitals and laboratory settings where clean air is a necessity and potentially dangerous particles can be circulated throughout the building. These filters are also found in the nuclear industry, where they are able to capture radioactive particles.

Considering the current pandemic, it may seem necessary for every building to have highly rated HEPA filters, but the reality is not every HVAC system is equipped to handle them. Modifications or system evaluations may need to be made to ensure fans are strong enough to pull air through the bigger and denser filters. If you need assistance with your air handling system filtration or performance, contact Director of Engineering Design Tom Gilmartin, PE, PMP, LEED AP at (716) 592-3980 ext. 124 or