Are all HVAC air filters the same?

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

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

A higher ranking indicates the filter can catch finer particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that stops finer dust can clog more rapidly, increasing pressure on your unit. If your system isn’t designed to work with this kind of filter, it might decrease airflow and create other problems.

Unless you reside in a medical center, you more than likely don’t need a MERV rating above 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC units are specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV rating lower than 13. Sometimes you will discover that decent 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 everyday annoyance, like 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 hide the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how regularly your filter should be exchanged. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added price.

Filters are created from varying materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters grab more dust but may reduce your unit’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s very unrealistic your unit was made to run with level of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Pierre, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works along with your heating and cooling system.