Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and measurements, and some have specifications that others don't. In most instances we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your equipment.

All filters have MERV ratings, which vary from 1–20. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger rating demonstrates the filter can grab more miniscule particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that traps finer substances can become obstructed more quickly, heightening pressure on your system. If your equipment isn’t designed to work with this kind of filter, it can lower airflow and create other troubles.

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

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should trap many daily annoyance, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can trap mold spores, but we recommend having a professional eliminate mold as opposed to trying to mask the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates how often your filter should be replaced. From what we know, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the additional cost.

Filters are created from different materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters grab more dirt but may limit your equipment’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might tempted to use a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort unit. It’s extremely unrealistic your system was created to run with kind of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Albany, think about installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works in tandem with your HVAC system.