Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have features that others don't. In most cases we recommend installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your equipment.

All filters have MERV ratings, which vary from 1–20. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A bigger ranking means the filter can trap finer particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that traps finer substances can become blocked more quickly, increasing pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t made to run with this model of filter, it can restrict airflow and cause other problems.

Unless you are in a medical facility, you likely don’t require a MERV rating higher than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC units are specifically designed to operate with a filter with a MERV level below 13. Frequently you will discover that good systems have been designed to work with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should trap most of the everyday annoyance, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to catch mold spores, but we suggest having a professional get rid of mold rather than trying to mask the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates how often your filter should be exchanged. In our experience, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the extra cost.

Filters are made from different materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters grab more dust but may limit your unit’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might tempted to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling system. It’s highly doubtful your unit was designed to work with level of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Winnipeg, consider getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works alongside your comfort system.