Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have specifications that others don't. In most cases we recommend getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your system.

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

A bigger rating indicates the filter can trap smaller particulates. This sounds great, but a filter that catches finer dust can become blocked more rapidly, raising pressure on your unit. If your equipment isn’t made to function with this model of filter, it could restrict airflow and cause other problems.

Unless you reside in a medical facility, you more than likely don’t require a MERV ranking higher than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to work with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Occasionally you will discover that good systems have been made to work with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should trap many common triggers, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we recommend having a professional remove mold instead of trying to hide the problem with a filter.

Usually the packaging demonstrates how frequently your filter should be exchanged. In our experience, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the added expense.

Filters are created from varying materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dust but may decrease your equipment’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you may be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling unit. It’s highly doubtful your unit was designed to handle that kind of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This unit works alongside your comfort system.