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 equipment.

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

A higher value demonstrates the filter can grab finer particles. This sounds good, but a filter that catches finer dirt can become obstructed more quickly, raising pressure on your equipment. If your system isn’t created to run with this kind of filter, it might lower airflow and create other troubles.

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

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should catch the majority of the everyday nuisances, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional eliminate mold as opposed to trying to conceal the trouble with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how often your filter should be exchanged. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the additional cost.

Filters are created from different materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters grab 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 equipment. It’s extremely unlikely your system was designed to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Voorhees, think over installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works in tandem with your heating and cooling system.