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 unit.

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

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

Unless you are in a medical facility, you more than likely don’t have to have a MERV rating greater than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC units are specifically designed to run with a filter with a MERV level below 13. Frequently you will discover that decent systems have been designed to work with a MERV ranking 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 advise having a professional eliminate mold rather than trying to mask the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how often your filter should be changed. In our experience, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the extra cost.

Filters are made from different materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being the most common. 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 might tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling system. It’s highly doubtful your unit was designed to run with level of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Winnipeg, consider getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works alongside your comfort system.