Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and size, and some have specs that others don't. In most instances we advise installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.

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

A bigger value means the filter can trap finer particles. This sounds great, but a filter that stops finer dust can become obstructed more rapidly, heightening pressure on your system. If your equipment isn’t made to function with this kind of filter, it might decrease airflow and cause other issues.

Unless you are in a medical facility, you likely don’t require a MERV ranking higher than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC systems are specifically engineered to work with a filter with a MERV level below 13. Occasionally you will find that decent systems have been made to run with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should get the majority of the everyday triggers, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can trap mold spores, but we recommend having a professional eliminate mold as opposed to trying to conceal the problem with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging demonstrates how regularly your filter should be changed. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the added expense.

Filters are created from differing materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters trap more debris but may decrease your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you may tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your comfort system. It’s very doubtful your unit was created to work with amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Kitchener, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works alongside your comfort system.