Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and dimensions, and some have specifications that others don't. In most cases we suggest installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.

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

A higher rating means the filter can catch smaller substances. This sounds good, but a filter that stops finer dirt can clog faster, heightening pressure on your equipment. If your equipment isn’t designed to run with this type of filter, it can reduce airflow and create other troubles.

Unless you live in a medical facility, you more than likely don’t require a MERV rating above 13. In fact, many residential HVAC systems are specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Occasionally you will find that good systems have been designed to operate with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should catch the majority of the common triggers, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we recommend having a professional get rid of mold rather than trying to mask the trouble with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates 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 manufactured from differing materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters grab more debris but may reduce 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 HVAC unit. It’s highly unrealistic your system was created to handle that kind of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Roanoke, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works in tandem with your heating and cooling system.