Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and dimensions, and some have specifications that others don't. In most situations we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your equipment.

All filters have MERV ratings, which vary from 1–20. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A higher ranking means the filter can grab smaller particles. This sounds great, but a filter that catches finer dust can become obstructed faster, heightening pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t created to function with this kind of filter, it can restrict airflow and lead to other problems.

Unless you live in a medical facility, you probably don’t need a MERV level above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to operate with a filter with a MERV ranking lower than 13. Occasionally you will find that decent systems have been engineered to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should catch most of the daily annoyance, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional remove mold rather than trying to hide the trouble with a filter.

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

Filters are manufactured from different materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters catch more debris but may reduce your equipment’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might be interested in using a HEPA filter, remember that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC unit. It’s very unlikely your system was created to work with amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality. This unit works in tandem with your comfort system.