Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have features that others don't. In most situations we suggest installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.

All filters are assigned MERV ratings, which range from 1–20. MERV is short for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A higher ranking demonstrates the filter can grab finer substances. This sounds good, but a filter that catches finer dust can become blocked more quickly, raising pressure on your system. If your system isn’t created to run with this kind of filter, it might lower airflow and lead to other issues.

Unless you are in a hospital, you probably don’t need a MERV level greater than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV level lower than 13. Sometimes you will discover that good systems have been designed to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should catch the majority of the everyday nuisances, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to stop mold spores, but we suggest having a professional eliminate mold rather than trying to mask the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging shows 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 created from different materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters trap more dust 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 putting a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC unit. It’s highly unlikely your system was designed to handle that level of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality. This product works in tandem with your comfort system.

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