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 using the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

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

A higher ranking indicates the filter can trap smaller particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer substances can become obstructed more quickly, raising pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t created to work with this type of filter, it might lower airflow and lead to other issues.

Unless you reside in a medical center, you likely don’t have to have a MERV rating above 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC equipment is specifically engineered to operate with a filter with a MERV ranking below 13. Frequently you will learn that good systems have been made to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should catch the majority of the common nuisances, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can trap mold spores, but we advise having a professional get rid of 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 last longer, and are worth the added cost.

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

While you may tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort equipment. It’s extremely unrealistic your equipment was designed to run with amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Boise, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works alongside your comfort system.