Are all HVAC air filters the same?

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

All filters are assigned MERV ratings, which vary from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A bigger ranking demonstrates the filter can catch finer substances. This sounds good, but a filter that traps finer dirt can become obstructed faster, raising pressure on your system. If your system isn’t made to work with this kind of filter, it can reduce airflow and create other issues.

Unless you reside in a hospital, you probably don’t have to have a MERV rating greater than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically made to run with a filter with a MERV rating under 13. Frequently you will find that decent systems have been engineered to run with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should get many everyday nuisances, such as 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 trouble with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates how often your filter should be replaced. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the extra cost.

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

While you could tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling system. It’s very unlikely your equipment was made to handle that kind of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in East Syracuse, think about adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works alongside your comfort system.