Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and dimensions, and some have features that others don't. In most cases we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

All filters are assigned MERV ratings, which range from 1–20. MERV is short for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A bigger ranking indicates the filter can grab finer particles. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that traps finer dirt can become obstructed more rapidly, increasing pressure on your system. If your system isn’t made to work with this type of filter, it might reduce airflow and lead to other troubles.

Unless you reside in a medical facility, you likely don’t require a MERV ranking higher than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC systems are specifically designed to operate with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Occasionally you will learn that good systems have been designed to work with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should get many daily annoyance, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we suggest having a professional eliminate mold rather than trying to conceal the trouble with a filter.

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

Filters are created from varying materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters trap more dirt but may decrease your system’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 putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s very unlikely your equipment was made to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality. This equipment works alongside your comfort system.

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