They require different size slots for air filters, so the answer is negative. Air conditioner filters are not universal. There are two types of manufacturers – cooling (HVAC or AC) unit and heating (Furnace) unit. 

Not all machines have the same features. Each of them works differently and each of them has different parts. So there’s a possible chance that the air conditioner is universal or not. 

I can face trouble if I can not find the right size air filter for the furnace. This way, it can be too large or small that it may not be able to clean the air system of harmful particles. It is necessary to find the right one to fulfill the purposes.

Are Air Conditioner Filters Universal

Are Air Conditioner Filters Universal? 

Air conditioner filters are not universal because they come in many sizes. They help to clear the impurity from the air and then deliver us clean air. Such a little thing, but it is doing its job so quickly. All you need to know is how to maintain it. 

What Do AC Filters Do? 

An air filter is an essential tool for a house to maintain indoor air quality. It also maintains overall home health. So, it is necessary to know how the air filter works and what it does. 

It is essential to keep the air clean that circulates through the air conditioner to continue the system functioning properly. This is where an air filter plays a vital role. The air of a home usually contains a lot of dust, dirt, and other contaminants. These things could cause damage to the HVAC system. 

Contrary to the popular belief that the air is gutted to cover your health, HVAC pollutants are primarily designed to cover the blowing fan of an HVAC system. When air is drawn into the HVAC system, it is first warmed or cooled and ushed through tubes that deliver it to all the apartments in your house. The filter then cleans the air just before it is pulled through the blower and circulated through the tubes. 

As the air is forced through the air filter, the material, generally pleated cloth or paper, traps any pollutants in the air.

Do All AC Units Use The Same Filter? 

Yes, all air conditioner units use the same filter. There is no need to add separate filters for different purposes. One air filter is enough to fulfill the whole process of maintaining the air system. 

As air conditioning and furnace filters are not the same, one can think that they need different filters for both systems. The excellent point is, this is not necessary at all. Furnace and air conditioner can easily use the same air filter, no need to worry about purchasing separate filters for each piece of equipment. 

It will cause no danger to the air system. Also, this can help from requiring unnecessary tools. One air filter is enough for the whole house.

Do All Air Filters Work The Same? 

According to quality, features, and dimensions, air conditioning filters are different from one another. So, no, not all the air filters are the same. It is best to use the filter which is recommended by the HVAC manufacturer pairing with the air conditioning system. 

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

This is a value that measures how effectively a filter stops particulates of varying sizes from passing through and into the air system. 

The air filter will be more effective at capturing smaller particles if the rating goes higher. 

A larger ranking demonstrates that the filter can catch finer particles. Though this sounds great, a filter that traps finer substances can break the normal system and starts to obstruct faster, along with heightening pressure on the equipment. If the unit does not cooperate with this model of filter to run, it may lower airflow and cause other troubles. 

Almost all the residential HVAC systems are specifically made to run with a filter with a MERV rating lower than 13. This is a fact that quality systems have been engineered to run with a MERV level of 8 or 11. Usually, in hospitals, they need to have a MERV level higher than 13.

The majority of the daily wastes such as pollen, pet dander, and dust should be caught with a MERV ranking of 5 by the filters. There are some filters that can trap mold spores, but it would be more useful to have a professional eliminate mold as opposed to trying to conceal the issue with a filter. It will be a good decision to know the requirements of the air conditioning system, before changing the filter.

Filters are created from different components with one use of fiberglass filters being standard. It is said that Polyester and pleated filters catch more dirt but may limit the system’s airflow. There are also HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters.

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How Do I Know Which Air Filters To Buy?

An air conditioner gives the cool, clean, and fresh inner air during the hot summer days. Air filters play a vital part in keeping the air of the home clean and healthy. First, it needs to find out the right size of the air filters, which I can easily find out from the air filter I am already using. 

There are some different types of air filters anyone can choose –

Fiberglass Air Filters :

This is a disposable air filter with the smallest straining capability of all types of fiberglass. This filter is quite affordable for everyone. They keep the air filter protected along with screening dust and adulterants in the air.

Pleated Air Filters:

They are made of polyester fabrics or cotton crowds, and pleated air filters are very effective in filtering dust and other particles. Choose those with further pleats because they offer better filtering performance. 

Washable Air Filters:

Washable air filters offer bigger than disposable types but save big time in the long run. They can be removed and gutted, so no need to constantly replace them. Read the manufacturer’s specs on how to maintain pollutants of this type. 

Make sure to record the drawing ahead of time. Let it dry fully because using its leaves will beget earth growth and bacteria buildup. This will help to make it long-lasting. 

Electrostatic Air Filters:

Electrostatic air pollutants use an electrostatic charge to attract dust and airborne patches. It also helps them from being distributed in your home. Some pollutants of this type are washable, while there are also those that are not. 

HEPA Filters: 

High effectiveness particulate air pollutants are stylish for people with dis-inclinations and prone to respiratory difficulties. They’re effective in screening pollutants up to 99.97.  This is a reason why the US Department of Energy recommends this type. 

This is the most popular air filter at this time, so to say. So, it would be an excellent idea to use this one without bringing any complex thoughts.      

UV Filters:

This type of pollutant uses ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria and contagions in the home. Although less effective in screening dust and other adulterants, they’re good at combating microorganisms which are also dangerous for health. 

The variation of air pollutants provides choices for home and business possessors in terms of effectiveness, health benefits, costs, and conservation.

What Size Air Filter Do I Need?

Air filter sizes are distributed by the filter’s thickness, also known as the depth, as well as its height and length. There are standard sizes, but the exact filter size will depend on the HVAC system and its specifications. The stylish way to figure out what size filter someone needs are to remove the filter from the HVAC system that is already being used and check for its confines on the filter frame. 

It can also be related to the HVAC system’s user manual to find the applicable filter size. Usually known as Filters will have a thickness of 1 inch for common systems and a thickness of 5 inches for larger HVAC systems. The overall size of the filter can vary from a height and length combination of 10 inches by 10 inches to 30 inches by 30 inches. 

Some of the most common sizes are – 

14 inches by 25 inches
16 inches by 20 inches
16 inches by 25 inches
20 inches by 25 inches
25 inches by 25 inches

As the air conditioner filters are not universal, it’s important to make sure the filters I buy are the correct size to fit in the HVAC system. So, I need to figure out the right size to avoid any disturbance. 

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When Should I Change My Air Filter?

The air filter in the HVAC system works to remove pollution from the air of my home and to keep my air conditioner and furnace running smoothly. Eventually, the filter will accumulate a lot of dirt and debris, and that’s why it will need a replacement. Generally, one needs to replace the air filter at least once a year.

It is good to change the air filter once a month or once every two months. For anyone who owns pets, my suggestion will be to change the air filter more frequently as the filter is more likely to catch pet hair and other particulates. It also may be a good idea to change the air filter more often if someone lives in an area that is highly polluted. 

For someone who has allergies, the more frequently the air filter is changed, the more likely they are to breathe easy at home and not deal with terrible allergies.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Change the Air Filter?

Usually, the air in the HVAC system passes through the air filter. The main job of the filter is to catch particulates and pollutants similar to dust, mold, pet dander, and fungal spores. The mesh that is implanted in the filter that air passes through becomes thick, therefore catching these particles and not hindering the drift of air.

However, the air can not pass through as before. On the other hand, more particles want to have the chance of getting through the mesh. So, it is a must that the air conditioner needs a new filter. Otherwise, it can harm the indoor air quality also.

If I do not change the air filter and keep the dirty one which is really, really dirty, it will have an effect on the other materials. The fan of the HVAC system has to work harder than before to push air. This way, it will occur high efficiency that could cost the higher electricity bill. 

The more delicate it is to move air throughout my home, the harder it will be to cool areas of my home. That means I will not feel as comfortable as before because they will be entering less cool air in the summer and lower warm air in the winter.

Without having air filters constantly replaced and with a backup of air, one can cause massive amounts of pollutants. This will impact inner air quality, which is a definite problem. 

In the end, there is a simple result to all of this. Change the AC’s air filters more constantly. It is an easy process that can exclude the strain and issues.

Can I Run My AC Without an Air Filter? 

It is possible to run an air conditioner without a filter, but it will cause damage to the whole air system. Without a filter, the air conditioning system will leave wide open to all types of dirt and wastage. That will damage the HVAC system, and it will cost expensive repairs.

Though one can get away with running an AC without a filter for a short amount of time, like just for one night, maybe, this will not cause excessive damage by hurting the system. On a serious note, running an air conditioner without a filter for longer than 6-8 hours can cause serious damage to the AC system and significantly lower the quality of the air in the home.


Air conditioner filters are not universal according to their size and features variation, but they do the most important part of the system. They not only keep dust and pollen out but also they are tasked with keeping larger particles out of your HVAC system and saving them from damage. So, it is important to check them regularly and replace them in time.

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