Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and size, and some have features that others don't. In most instances we recommend getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your equipment.

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

A higher ranking indicates the filter can grab finer particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that traps finer substances can clog more rapidly, increasing pressure on your system. If your system isn’t created to function with this type of filter, it can lower airflow and lead to other troubles.

Unless you reside in a medical facility, you probably don’t have to have a MERV rating greater than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC equipment is specifically designed to operate with a filter with a MERV ranking lower than 13. Occasionally you will discover that quality systems have been designed to work with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should get the majority of the daily annoyance, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional get rid of mold instead of trying to hide the issue with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates how frequently your filter should be replaced. In our experience, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the additional expense.

Filters are manufactured from different materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dirt but may reduce your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you could be interested in using a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling system. It’s extremely doubtful your equipment was made to work with level of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Elkhart, consider getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works along with your comfort system.