Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have specs that others don't. In most instances we advise getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

All filters have MERV ratings, which range from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger rating indicates the filter can grab smaller particles. This sounds good, but a filter that traps finer substances can clog faster, raising pressure on your equipment. If your equipment isn’t designed to run with this kind of filter, it may decrease airflow and cause other troubles.

Unless you are in a hospital, 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 lower than 13. Frequently you will learn that quality systems have been engineered to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should catch the majority of the daily triggers, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to catch mold spores, but we advise having a professional remove mold as opposed to trying to conceal the issue with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates how regularly your filter should be changed. From what we know, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the additional expense.

Filters are manufactured from different materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters grab more dust but may reduce your equipment’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you could be interested in using a HEPA filter, remember that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s highly doubtful your system was created to run with amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Memphis, think over adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works alongside your heating and cooling system.