Are all HVAC air filters the same?

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

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

A bigger ranking demonstrates the filter can catch smaller particles. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that traps finer dust can become obstructed faster, raising pressure on your system. If your unit isn’t designed to function with this model of filter, it may reduce airflow and lead to other problems.

Unless you live in a hospital, you likely don’t need a MERV ranking higher than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically designed to operate with a filter with a MERV rating under 13. Frequently you will learn that decent systems have been engineered to run with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should trap the majority of the common triggers, like 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 trouble with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging indicates how frequently your filter should be changed. From what we know, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the added cost.

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

While you might be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s highly unrealistic your equipment was created to work with level of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Waldorf, consider adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works alongside your HVAC system.