Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have specs that others don't. In most cases we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your system.

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

A bigger ranking demonstrates the filter can trap smaller particulates. This sounds great, but a filter that stops finer dirt can clog more rapidly, raising pressure on your equipment. If your unit isn’t designed to function with this model of filter, it could reduce airflow and cause other troubles.

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

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should get many common annoyance, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can stop mold spores, but we recommend having a professional eliminate mold instead of trying to hide the issue with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging shows how frequently your filter should be changed. From what we know, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the added expense.

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

While you may be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling system. It’s highly unlikely your system was made to run with amount of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Indianapolis, consider adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works along with your comfort system.