Are all HVAC air filters the same?

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

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

A higher ranking indicates the filter can catch more miniscule particles. This sounds good, but a filter that traps finer dirt can become blocked more rapidly, increasing pressure on your system. If your system isn’t created to function with this kind of filter, it may decrease airflow and lead to other troubles.

Unless you live in a medical center, you more than likely don’t need a MERV rating higher than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC equipment is specifically engineered to work with a filter with a MERV rating below 13. Frequently you will find that good systems have been engineered to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should trap many daily nuisances, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we suggest having a professional remove mold instead of trying to mask the problem with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging shows how frequently your filter should be changed. In our experience, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added cost.

Filters are manufactured from varying materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters grab more dust but may limit 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 installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort system. It’s very doubtful your system was designed to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This unit works in tandem with your HVAC system.

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