When it comes to air filters, the Merv 5-8 range can only capture air pollutants of 3.0 microns or greater. This means that Merv 8 filters are able to capture medium-sized particles, such as aerosols, mold and dust. However, this is not enough to protect your home from harmful viruses and bacteria, as well as smoke and other forms of air pollution. So why use them? The main reason is that some older units can only handle these filters. A couple of decades ago, lower quality filters were almost the only ones used in homes.
Technology for HVAC units has progressed since then and most modern units in recent years should be able to have a MERV 8 filter at least. However, older units may not be able to have enough air pressure to force air through a higher efficiency filter. Attempting to do so could cause significant problems, as well as the need for repairs. If you have allergies, pets, or live near smoke pollution, choosing a Merv 13 filter is the ideal choice. But if you simply need a filter to trap pollen, dust mites, and hair, a MERV 8 filter should definitely do its job.
Because the MERV 8 is in the high end of what is considered best for homes, it can be tempting to choose a MERV 8 air filter. MERV 13 air filters also help new buildings achieve LEED certification. Upgrading to a Merv 13 filter is both cost-effective and the most efficient option to ensure clean, quality air for your indoor space. A MERV 8 air filter is common in homes, commercial buildings, paint booths, and industrial workplaces. Using the filter with the highest Merv rating in your home would restrict that airflow, making it difficult for your HVAC to function properly. We recommend this MERV rating for people with pets, children, or people just looking for better indoor air quality.
If you want it to at least clean the air and handle dust, mold, pollen and bacteria, then a MERV 8 will do the job. That means things like pet dander, smoke, and some airborne bacteria are likely to pass through the MERV 8 filter. In conclusion, while a MERV 8 air filter can be tempting due to its high end rating for homes, it may not be enough for those who suffer from allergies or live near smoke pollution. For these cases we recommend upgrading to a Merv 13 filter which will provide better protection against harmful allergens and pollutants.