Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and size, and some have specifications that others don't. In most situations we suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your equipment.

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

A bigger ranking indicates the filter can trap finer particles. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer dust can become blocked more rapidly, heightening pressure on your unit. If your system isn’t designed to run with this model of filter, it might reduce airflow and create other issues.

Unless you live in a hospital, you likely don’t have to have a MERV ranking above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically made to work with a filter with a MERV level lower than 13. Occasionally you will discover that quality systems have been made to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should get the majority of the common triggers, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to catch mold spores, but we recommend having a professional remove mold rather than trying to mask the issue with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging demonstrates how frequently your filter should be exchanged. In our experience, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the extra expense.

Filters are manufactured from different materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dirt but may limit your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you could be interested in using a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC unit. It’s extremely doubtful your system was made to run with amount of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality. This equipment works in tandem with your heating and cooling system.

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