Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and size, and some have specs that others don't. In most instances we recommend using the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your unit.

All filters are classified with MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger value demonstrates the filter can grab more miniscule particulates. This sounds great, but a filter that catches finer dust can clog more rapidly, raising pressure on your system. If your system isn’t created to function with this type of filter, it could decrease airflow and create other issues.

Unless you live in a medical facility, you likely don’t have to have a MERV level greater than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to operate with a filter with a MERV rating under 13. Frequently you will learn that good systems have been engineered to run with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should trap the majority of the daily annoyance, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can trap mold spores, but we recommend having a professional eliminate mold as opposed to trying to conceal the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates how regularly your filter should be exchanged. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the extra price.

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

While you might tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC system. It’s highly doubtful your equipment was made to handle that level of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This equipment works in tandem with your HVAC system.