Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different 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 equipment.

All filters are classified with MERV ratings, which vary from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A higher ranking indicates the filter can trap finer particles. This sounds great, but a filter that traps finer dirt can clog more quickly, increasing pressure on your unit. If your equipment isn’t designed to run with this kind of filter, it could decrease airflow and cause other troubles.

Unless you live in a medical facility, you probably don’t need a MERV rating above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to operate with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Occasionally you will learn that quality systems have been designed to operate with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should catch most of the everyday annoyance, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can stop mold spores, but we suggest having a professional eliminate mold as opposed to trying to mask the trouble with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging shows how often your filter should be changed. From what we know, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the extra cost.

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

While you could want to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling system. It’s very doubtful your system was created to run with level of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This equipment works alongside your HVAC system.

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