Are all HVAC air filters the same?

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

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

A larger value demonstrates the filter can trap finer substances. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer substances can become blocked more quickly, heightening pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t created to work with this type of filter, it could reduce airflow and lead to other issues.

Unless you reside in a hospital, you likely don’t need a MERV ranking higher than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically designed to run with a filter with a MERV ranking under 13. Sometimes you will learn that quality systems have been designed to run with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should trap the majority of the daily triggers, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can stop mold spores, but we suggest having a professional get rid of mold instead of trying to mask the issue with a filter.

Usually the packaging demonstrates how regularly your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the additional expense.

Filters are created from different materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters grab more debris but may decrease your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might want to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC unit. It’s highly unrealistic your system was made to run with kind of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Gaithersburg, think over getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works along with your heating and cooling system.