MERV 8 vs MERV 13 Furnace Filters – The Surprising Differences Between Them

When browsing for furnace filters you typically see most filters are rated from MERV 8 to MERV 13. Of course there are still some retailers that carry the low quality fiberglass filters too. But assuming you value a higher level of air quality in your home, you will probably find yourself comparing MERV 8 and MERV 13 filters.

Although prices can vary, you can see that there is a pretty big price difference between the two MERV ratings.

So it begs the question, is it really worth upgrading from MERV 8 to MERV 13? Is there a huge difference between the two?

Well, in order to understand the difference, we must first get acquainted with how the MERV rating scale works.

Understanding MERV Ratings

MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value and it is basically a measure of how effective a furnace filter is. Although the scale ranges from MERV 1 to 20, the majority of furnace filter retailers only carry filters between MERV 8 to 13.

To put it short, the higher the rating, the more particles the filter will trap and therefore the higher the quality. The table below breaks down the particle size each MERV rating is capable of filtering.

MERV Rating Particle Size Scale

(NOTE: 1 micrometer is 1000 times smaller than a millimeter)

As you can see from the table, the difference between a MERV 8 and a MERV 13 is ONLY 2 MICROMETERS!

It doesn’t sound like much at all, especially if you consider that 2 micrometers is 0.002 millimeters. Paying a premium for an additional 0.002 milometer of filtration may sound crazy, until you consider how things work at the molecular level.

The Difference That 2 Micrometers Can Make

Not to sound overly dramatic but at the molecular level what may seem like a minuscule difference can actually mean the difference between life and death. (hence why hospitals only choose a certain type of filter, as I will explain later).

Now I don’t want to alarm you, chances are, nothing fatal will happen in your home if you choose a lower MERV filter. However it’s important to understand the limitations of a MERV 8 filter and the benefits of a MERV 13.

What MERV 8 is able to do

MERV 8 filters are great for an average home. It is miles better than fiberglass filters and is still quite reasonably priced.

This type of furnace filter will be able to trap anything larger than 3 micrometers, which is enough to trap the common pollen, dust and debris.

Why MERV 13 makes a huge difference

MERV 13 filters are great for anyone looking for an advanced level of air quality in their homes. There is a reason why many hospitals and other medical facilities use MERV 13 filters.

This type of furnace filter will be able to trap anything larger than 1 micrometer, which effectively traps pet dander, mold spores, car fumes, smoke, bacteria and other microallergens.

Trapping bacteria and microallergens can help prevent various harmful sicknesses and severe allergic reactions. Avoiding these contaminants in the air inside your home may mean vast overall health benefits.

Comparing MERV 8 vs MERV 13

How to determine which is filter is the best for your home

Each household is different and therefore requires a different level of filtration. As mentioned earlier, MERV 8 filters are a great solution for most households, so chances are, you will be just fine with this one.

However, below are a few reasons why you might consider upgrading to a MERV 13.

Allergies – if you suffer from allergies and don’t currently use a MERV 13 filter in your household, we highly recommend giving it a shot. You may end up spending an extra $40 or $50 for a year supply of furnace filters, but its a small cost to help relieve allergy symptoms.

Pets in your home – Another reason to upgrade to a MERV 13 is if you own a pet. Pet dander can have detrimental effects on the air quality in your home and upgrading your filter will definitely help. This is even more important if you have multiple pets in your home.

Smog and construction – If you live in an area with heavy construction, factories or smog, using a MERV 13 filter will ensure that the air inside your home will not be contaminated.

Wildfire smoke – The last reason why it would be a good idea to upgrade to a MERV 13 filter is if you live in or near a wildfire smoke area. Much of Western the US and US have been affected by the wildfires this year and many of our own customers were affected. They have told us that they have noticed an immediate difference within just a couple hours after installing a MERV 13 filter.

The Final Verdict

What may seem like a minuscule difference (literally, 0.002 millimeters), has drastic effects on the air quality in your home.

We have had several customers tell us that the difference between the two filters was night and day, citing:

  • Improvements in sleep
  • Less headaches
  • Increased energy
  • Overall higher quality of living

As mentioned earlier, it will only cost you an extra $40-$50 a year to upgrade from MERV 8 to MERV 13, and assuming your furnace can handle it, why not give it a shot?

As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need help deciding which filter is right for your home.

What type of furnace filter do you have in your home? Have you ever upgraded MERV ratings? Did you notice a difference? Leave your feedback below!

3 Ridiculous Myths About Fiberglass Filters and Why You Should Avoid Them

Fiberglass filters have surged in popularity in the recent decade due to how inexpensive they are. All major big box retail stores carry them, make them very available to most homeowners across the US. The standard MERV rating they claim to have varies between 1-4 and typically last no more than 30 days.

We’ve seen a bunch of claims and rumours floating around out there, so we decided to address and dispel some of the more popular ones

What is a Fiberglass Filter?

Fiberglass filters are typically blue in colour and usually come in either 1 or 2 inch sizes. As the name suggests, these filters are made from continuous glass fibers.

The fiberglass filter is not unlike a pleated filter, in that it is designed to filter the input of air through your home with an emphasis on removing harmful particles that cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, that is where the similarities stop.

The Difference Between a Fiberglass Filter and a Pleated Filter

Pleated filters are designed to capture smaller sized particles more efficiently and provide your home with a much higher quality of air. Although fiberglass filters are often advertised to create a better airflow through your home, this is only due to the fact that they are essentially full of holes.

This, unfortunately, allows potentially harmful air contaminants to have free reign over your home. Not only this, but the easy access past your air filter can cause a build-up on your AC coils, which can result in breakdowns to your unit that could require costly repairs.

As with all popular products, myths, rumours and unverified claims started to spread about fiberglass filters. Doing a little bit of digging and research will uncover some facts you ought to know before purchasing these type of filters.

3 Popular Myths About Fiberglass Filters

Whether you’ve heard it from your neighbors or from the”expert” at your local big box store, here are some ridiculous myths that you may have come across.

MYTH #1: Fiberglass filters are an effective filter for your home.

FACT: Fiberglass filters are inept at filtering the majority of smaller particles in the air. They claim that these filters have a MERV rating between 1 and 4. If you take a look at the MERV rating scale you can see that at this level, these filters wouldn’t even trap common dust and debris which can be found in any average household.

MYTH #2: Fiberglass filters are better for your AC/Furnace.

FACT:  Fiberglass filters can actually put your AC/Furnace at a higher risk to the buildups that can cause breakdowns. These filters are prone to clogging up quick, which would cause your AC/furnace unit to work in overdrive to try and push air through.

This could ultimately be disastrous for your HVAC system and may lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.

MYTH #3: Fiberglass filters are cost effective in the long run.

FACT:  Fiberglass filters can cost up to $5 per filter and must be changed every 30 days. We offer pleated filters for not much more, and can last up to a few months.

VIDEO: Demonstration of the Difference Between a Fiberglass Filter and a Pleated Filter

The “Cheaper” Option That Ends Up Being More Expensive

On the surface, fiberglass filters appear to be a great cost-effective option. However after doing just a bit of research, it’s evident that it quite the opposite.

The long-term disadvantages and risks of fiberglass filters may end up costing you more money. Not only will you be forced to replace these cheap, less than effective filter very regularly, if you forget to do so, you could be subject to a considerably higher bill if your furnace or AC breaks down.

Not to mention all the potential health side effects that simple don’t have an attributable dollar value.

The peace of mind you will get from using a pleated filter with a higher MERV rating will be all the reward you need when you are contemplating what type of filter you should buy for your home.

Keep these facts in mind the next time you are at the store eyeing one of those inexpensive fiberglass filters.

Have you ever seen these fiberglass filters before? What have you heard about them? Leave your comment below!

Little-Known Facts You Need To Know About Indoor Air Quality In Wildfire Zones

Western the US is in the midst of another season of life-threatening wildfires. The combination of dry conditions and a small spark can be all it takes to cause these powerful forces of nature to do a great deal of damage that can reach far and wide.

(Source: BC Wildfire Service via Twitter)

Why isn’t indoor air quality being mentioned on the news?

With these wildfires becoming an annual trend in recent years, one wonders why so little information is distributed about indoor air quality in affected areas.

It is a little-known fact that the clouds of smoke that come as a result of these wildfires reach a lot further than many people are aware. Even those who appear to be well out of harm’s way could potentially be breathing in a far less quality of air, both out or even in their homes.

Source: CTV News Vancouver

Children, the elderly and those suffering from conditions like asthma are especially at risk in these circumstances.

Proper air filtration is your first line of defence

One way to combat the negative effects to the air quality caused by these wildfires is to make sure your home’s air filter is up to standard and still performing at a high level.

Homeowners should check the state of their air filters more often during these times and gauge the condition of their filter by performing an eye test. If your filter seems particularly dark or dirty, one shouldn’t hesitate to replace it as soon as possible.

Below is a comparison of a new filter with a filter after just ONE WEEK of use in wildfire zones:

Breathing in a lesser quality of air has the potential to have long-term effects on people of all ages and even more so to the more susceptible demographics.

Your home should be equipped with a MERV 13 (or higher) air filter in order to properly handle smoke and fumes. Anything under a MERV 13 does not have the efficiency level to deal with the current conditions in affected wildfire zones in the western provinces.

For more information on the MERV rating system, please visit this link.

Homeowners should also continuously run the fans on their furnace during these times, to effectively increase a healthy amount of air flow through their homes.

To our friends out West affected by wildfires, please good take care

In these troubling times, it is important to be educated and informed about all that comes with the threat of local and semi-local wildfires. It is not merely the immediate threat of the fires themselves, but the often undetected threat of poor air quality that ourselves and loved ones are breathing in.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the tragic wildfire conditions in Alberta and British Colombia and we urge everyone to put their safety first and foremost.

The Hidden Negative Side Of Having A Pet In Your Home (Hint: Air Quality)

Air Quality

Having pets has always been a good solution for any home since there are lots of benefits that come with pets like introducing some rules and obligations to your children, so they’ll understand from a young age how and why should they care about other beings. Other benefits include a particular kind of pest control like mice and small insects in case you own a cat or even keeping your home safe from unwanted intruders in case you own a dog. Household pets provide you and your family with lots of fun moments, and most of the people can’t imagine their lives without a pet in their home, regardless of the air quality issues it brings.

Nowadays, 37% of Canadian households have cats and around 32% own dogs, and 9% owns other pets like fish, birds, reptiles, etc. meaning that almost 80% of Canadian households own at least one pet.

Another side of the coin is that having an animal indoors can have an enormous impact on the indoor air quality since pets can trigger allergy symptoms and bring some other airborne irritants into your house.

How Is it possible that having a pet in your home can significantly decrease the indoor air quality?

Having a pet indoors can bring many side effects, apart from the lovely ones. It is advised to perform an allergy test before you decide to bring a pet into your home. If you are not allergic, maybe some of your family members are, and it’s always easier to choose not to bring a pet home in case someone is allergic than to get into a situation where you need to give away your beloved animal. There is an estimate that 15 to 30% of Canadians are allergic to many different kinds of irritants brought by pets. Animal fur, dander, litter and many others can cause severe air quality decrease in your home. The most common irritants that are airborne are:

  • Animal fur that can be found all around your house since animals shed their coat often. Cat’s fur is more common to cause severe allergies followed by sneezing, eye-watering and even symptoms of asthma in some cases. Dog’s hair can also cause allergies, but it’s not so prevalent as it is with cat’s fur.
  • Animal dander is a particle of animal skin that is shed and is airborne. Animal dander can also trigger symptoms like itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. Even hairless dogs and cats shed skin, so there aren’t any hypoallergenic animals at all. Bathing and brushing your pets on a regular basis will decrease dander significantly.
  • Cat Litter is very well known to cat owners for its high pitch odour. If not cleaned on a frequent basis it will blow a punch to your senses and significantly decrease air quality in your home.

Among the ones mentioned above, other reasons contribute to low air quality in your home like irregular cleaning and dusting of rooms and objects your pet often uses or goes into.

Tips on how to fight-off lousy air while keeping your pets inside

There are ways to fight against this “enemy” like cleaning the house more frequently than you used to when your home had no pets inside. Also, frequent dusting is very important since shed skin and fur are pilling up on your walls, objects around your room and floors. Every step you make inside your home makes that pilled up dander and fur fly around. Try to teach your pets some restrictions. Do not let them enter specific rooms that you choose they shouldn’t enter, especially bedrooms. Also, try to teach them to avoid spending their time on the couch, do not sleep with them, but teach them to sleep in their bed. Wash any piece of cloth that your pet sat on in hot water frequently to avoid allergenic symptoms to spread.

Despite the need to perform “Air Quality Test” in your home from time to time, there are also “techy” solutions you could use to improve the supply of quality air in your home. Some of them are:

  • Monitoring and changing furnace filters regularly which is crucial in case you have pets.
    Finding a filter shouldn’t be very hard. We recommend having at least a MERV 11 filter if you have pets, as this level of filtration is needed for pet dander. Never let your filters to get too much dirty!
  • Using strong air purifiers in every room is also advisable. Seek for the latest, automated
    ones with sensor technology installed.
  • Installing an air exchanger that will provide you with constant fresh air supply is also a must.
  • Air vents must be clean and free of any dirt, fur or foreign objects.

Do not choose between healthy home and having a pet

Quality air makes your pet happy

As I’ve already mentioned, having a pet is a fantastic, life-changing experience that comes at a specific cost. The price you have to pay for being a proud owner of a house pet will not be high if you follow up the standards and rules of keeping your home healthy and clean, whether you use your vacuum cleaner and soap or even some more “high-tech” solutions. The combination of the two is always the best solution, but in case you aren’t able to combine those two solutions, try to do your best in implementing at least one of them because you owe it to your health, as well as to your pet’s health.