Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and measurements, and some have features that others don't. In most situations we advise getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

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

A higher value means the filter can grab more miniscule particulates. This sounds good, but a filter that traps finer substances can become blocked more quickly, heightening pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t created to work with this model of filter, it might lower airflow and create other troubles.

Unless you are in a medical center, you more than likely don’t require a MERV rating above 13. In fact, many residential HVAC equipment is specifically engineered to run with a filter with a MERV level below 13. Frequently you will learn that decent systems have been made to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should catch many common nuisances, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can stop mold spores, but we suggest having a professional eliminate mold as opposed to trying to hide the issue with a filter.

Often the packaging indicates how regularly your filter should be replaced. In our experience, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the additional cost.

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

While you may be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s extremely doubtful your equipment was designed to work with amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Boise, think over getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works alongside your heating and cooling system.