Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have specs that others don't. In most situations we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your unit.

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

A higher rating indicates the filter can grab finer particles. This sounds good, but a filter that traps finer dust can clog more rapidly, heightening pressure on your system. If your system isn’t designed to run with this model of filter, it could lower airflow and lead to other issues.

Unless you live in a hospital, you likely don’t require a MERV rating higher than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to operate with a filter with a MERV rating lower than 13. Sometimes you will discover that quality systems have been designed to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should trap most of the common triggers, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we suggest having a professional get rid of mold as opposed to trying to mask the problem with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging shows how often your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the extra price.

Filters are made from varying materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dust but may decrease your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s extremely unrealistic your unit was made to run with level of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This equipment works along with your heating and cooling system.

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