Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and size, and some have features that others don't. In most instances we suggest installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your equipment.

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

A higher value means the filter can catch finer particulates. This sounds good, but a filter that catches finer dust can become obstructed more rapidly, heightening pressure on your system. If your equipment isn’t created to work with this kind of filter, it could reduce airflow and lead to other troubles.

Unless you are in a medical center, you probably don’t require a MERV level higher than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC systems are specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV rating lower than 13. Sometimes you will discover that good systems have been designed to run with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should trap many daily triggers, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional eliminate mold as opposed to trying to mask the issue 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 made from different materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters catch more debris but may decrease your unit’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you could tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s very unrealistic your unit was created to run with amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Fort Wayne, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works in tandem with your heating and cooling system.