Are all HVAC air filters the same?

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

All filters are classified with MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A bigger value indicates the filter can grab finer substances. This sounds great, but a filter that traps finer dirt can become obstructed faster, raising pressure on your equipment. If your unit isn’t created to run with this kind of filter, it may restrict airflow and lead to other issues.

Unless you reside in a medical facility, you more than likely don’t require a MERV ranking 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 discover that good 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 common annoyance, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can trap mold spores, but we advise having a professional get rid of mold instead of trying to hide the trouble with a filter.

Usually the packaging indicates how frequently your filter should be exchanged. In our experience, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the additional 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 amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Louisville, think over adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works in tandem with your comfort system.