Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have features that others don't. In most instances we advise installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

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

A bigger ranking means the filter can trap smaller particles. This sounds great, but a filter that catches finer dust can become blocked more rapidly, heightening pressure on your equipment. If your unit isn’t designed to work with this type of filter, it could decrease airflow and create other issues.

Unless you live in a medical center, you likely don’t have to have a MERV level greater than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC units are specifically made to run with a filter with a MERV ranking below 13. Sometimes you will find that decent systems have been made to run with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should get the majority of the everyday triggers, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional eliminate mold instead of trying to mask the issue with a filter.

Usually the packaging indicates how regularly your filter should be replaced. In our experience, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the additional price.

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

While you might tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s highly unrealistic your system was made to run with amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Buffalo, think over adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works along with your comfort system.