Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and measurements, and some have specs that others don't. In most cases we advise using the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your system.

All filters are assigned MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger value indicates the filter can trap finer particles. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer dust can clog more rapidly, heightening pressure on your equipment. If your unit isn’t made to function with this type of filter, it can decrease airflow and cause other troubles.

Unless you reside in a hospital, you probably don’t need a MERV ranking greater than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically designed to run with a filter with a MERV ranking under 13. Frequently you will learn that quality systems have been designed to run with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should trap the majority of the everyday triggers, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to stop mold spores, but we recommend having a professional remove mold instead of trying to conceal the trouble with a filter.

Usually the packaging shows how often your filter should be replaced. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the extra expense.

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

While you could want to use a HEPA filter, know that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s extremely doubtful your equipment was designed to run with level of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality. This product works along with your heating and cooling system.