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 suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.

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

A larger ranking demonstrates the filter can catch smaller particles. This sounds good, but a filter that catches finer dirt can become blocked more rapidly, raising pressure on your equipment. If your equipment isn’t designed to function with this type of filter, it can reduce airflow and create other problems.

Unless you live in a hospital, you more than likely don’t need a MERV ranking greater than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC equipment is specifically designed to operate with a filter with a MERV rating under 13. Frequently you will discover that good systems have been engineered to operate with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should trap many common triggers, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we advise having a professional get rid of mold as opposed to trying to mask the problem with a filter.

Usually the packaging indicates how frequently your filter should be changed. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the additional cost.

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

While you might tempted to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort equipment. It’s extremely unrealistic your equipment was created to run with level of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Waldorf, consider adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works alongside your HVAC system.