Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and measurements, and some have specifications that others don't. In most situations we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your unit.

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

A bigger rating indicates the filter can catch more miniscule substances. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that traps finer dirt can clog more quickly, raising pressure on your unit. If your equipment isn’t designed to run with this type of filter, it can lower airflow and cause other problems.

Unless you live in a medical facility, you more than likely don’t need a MERV level greater than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC units are specifically designed to operate with a filter with a MERV rating lower than 13. Sometimes you will learn that good systems have been made to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should get most of the common nuisances, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can catch mold spores, but we suggest having a professional eliminate mold rather than trying to hide the issue with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging indicates how frequently your filter should be exchanged. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the extra expense.

Filters are manufactured from different materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters trap more debris but may decrease your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might want to use a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling unit. It’s highly unlikely your system was made to work with kind of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This equipment works alongside your HVAC system.