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 advise using the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your system.

All filters are classified with MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger rating demonstrates the filter can catch finer particles. This sounds great, but a filter that stops finer substances can become obstructed faster, heightening pressure on your equipment. If your equipment isn’t made to run with this type of filter, it might restrict airflow and cause other issues.

Unless you reside in a medical facility, you likely don’t require a MERV ranking above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC systems are specifically engineered to run with a filter with a MERV level below 13. Frequently you will find that good systems have been engineered to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should trap the majority of the everyday annoyance, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we advise having a professional remove mold instead of trying to mask the issue with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging demonstrates how often your filter should be replaced. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the added cost.

Filters are manufactured from varying materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters trap more dirt but may decrease your equipment’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you may want to use a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC equipment. It’s extremely unrealistic your system was designed to work with kind of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This product works alongside your comfort system.

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