Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have features that others don't. In most instances we recommend installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your unit.

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

A larger ranking means the filter can catch more miniscule particulates. This sounds good, but a filter that catches finer substances can become blocked more quickly, raising pressure on your system. If your system isn’t made to run with this type of filter, it may lower airflow and cause other troubles.

Unless you are in a medical center, you probably don’t require a MERV rating higher than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC systems are specifically designed to run with a filter with a MERV level lower than 13. Occasionally you will find that quality systems have been engineered to work with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should get many everyday annoyance, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional eliminate mold instead of trying to hide the trouble 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 additional cost.

Filters are manufactured from differing materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters grab more debris but may decrease your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might want to use a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC system. It’s very unlikely your equipment was designed to work with amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality. This equipment works along with your HVAC system.