Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have specifications that others don't. In most situations we suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your equipment.

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

A larger ranking demonstrates the filter can trap more miniscule particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer dust can become obstructed more quickly, increasing pressure on your system. If your system isn’t made to work with this kind of filter, it may reduce airflow and cause other problems.

Unless you live in a hospital, you more than likely don’t need a MERV ranking greater than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC units are specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV ranking lower than 13. Frequently you will find that quality systems have been made to run with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should get the majority of the common triggers, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can catch mold spores, but we suggest having a professional remove mold instead of trying to conceal the problem with a filter.

Usually the packaging indicates how regularly your filter should be replaced. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added cost.

Filters are manufactured from differing materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dirt but may limit your unit’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you may want to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort unit. It’s extremely unrealistic your system was made to run with kind of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Grand Island, think about adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works in tandem with your comfort system.