Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and measurements, and some have features that others don't. In most situations we suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your system.

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

A larger rating means the filter can catch finer particles. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer substances can clog more quickly, raising pressure on your system. If your equipment isn’t created to function with this type of filter, it might restrict airflow and cause other problems.

Unless you are in a hospital, you more than likely don’t have to have a MERV ranking greater than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC systems are specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV ranking below 13. Occasionally you will find that good systems have been designed to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should trap the majority of the everyday triggers, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we suggest having a professional remove mold as opposed to trying to conceal the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging indicates how regularly your filter should be replaced. From what we know, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the additional cost.

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

While you may tempted to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort system. It’s extremely unrealistic your equipment was created to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in the Wasatch Front region, think about installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works alongside your heating and cooling system.