Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have specifications that others don't. In most instances we recommend getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.

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

A bigger ranking means the filter can trap more miniscule particulates. This sounds good, but a filter that traps finer dirt can become blocked faster, increasing pressure on your equipment. If your system isn’t made to function with this model of filter, it can restrict airflow and cause other problems.

Unless you are in a hospital, you likely don’t need a MERV ranking higher than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC equipment is specifically designed to operate with a filter with a MERV level lower than 13. Occasionally you will learn that good systems have been engineered to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should get many common nuisances, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can stop mold spores, but we recommend having a professional remove mold as opposed to trying to conceal the trouble with a filter.

Usually the packaging shows how frequently your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the additional price.

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

While you may tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling system. It’s extremely unrealistic your equipment was designed to run with kind of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Belleville, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works alongside your heating and cooling system.