Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have specifications that others don't. In most instances we advise using the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your system.

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

A bigger rating means the filter can trap more miniscule particles. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer dust can become obstructed faster, increasing pressure on your unit. If your equipment isn’t designed to run with this type of filter, it might lower airflow and cause other issues.

Unless you live in a medical facility, you probably don’t have to have a MERV ranking above 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC systems are specifically made to work with a filter with a MERV rating under 13. Frequently you will learn that quality systems have been engineered to run with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should get many common nuisances, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional get rid of mold as opposed to trying to conceal the issue with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates how often your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added cost.

Filters are made from different materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being standard. 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, keep in mind that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s very unlikely your equipment was created to run with level of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This unit works in tandem with your comfort system.

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