Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and size, and some have features that others don't. In most instances we suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your system.

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

A larger ranking means the filter can trap finer particles. This sounds great, but a filter that traps finer dirt can become obstructed faster, raising pressure on your system. If your equipment isn’t created to run with this kind of filter, it can restrict airflow and create other issues.

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

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should trap many daily annoyance, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can trap mold spores, but we suggest having a professional get rid of mold instead of trying to hide the problem with a filter.

Usually the packaging indicates how frequently your filter should be changed. In our experience, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the added price.

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

While you could want to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC equipment. It’s highly unlikely your unit was made to handle that level of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Louisville, think over adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works along with your comfort system.