Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and measurements, and some have specifications that others don't. In most instances we recommend using the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

All filters have MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV is short for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger rating demonstrates the filter can grab smaller particles. This sounds great, but a filter that stops finer substances can clog faster, heightening pressure on your system. If your system isn’t created to run with this model of filter, it might reduce airflow and lead to other problems.

Unless you live in a hospital, you more than likely don’t need a MERV level above 13. In fact, many residential HVAC units are specifically designed to run with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Occasionally you will discover that good systems have been designed to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should trap most of the daily triggers, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to catch mold spores, but we advise having a professional get rid of mold as opposed to trying to hide the issue with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how often your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added expense.

Filters are created from varying materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dirt but may limit your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you may want to use a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your comfort unit. It’s extremely unlikely your unit was made to handle that level of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality. This equipment works alongside your heating and cooling system.