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 using the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your system.

All filters have MERV ratings, which vary from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger rating means the filter can trap more miniscule particulates. This sounds great, but a filter that catches finer dirt can become obstructed more rapidly, raising pressure on your unit. If your equipment isn’t made to run with this type of filter, it could restrict airflow and cause other problems.

Unless you are in a medical center, you likely don’t have to have a MERV ranking greater than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to work with a filter with a MERV ranking under 13. Sometimes you will learn that decent systems have been made to work with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should get the majority of the common triggers, including 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 trouble with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging shows how frequently your filter should be changed. In our experience, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the additional expense.

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

While you may be interested in using a HEPA filter, remember that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling unit. It’s extremely doubtful your unit was created to handle that kind of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in the Niagara Region, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works alongside your comfort system.