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 situations we advise getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

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

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

Unless you reside in a hospital, you likely don’t require a MERV rating higher than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC units are specifically designed to run with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Frequently you will learn that quality systems have been engineered to run with a MERV level 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 suggest having a professional remove mold rather than trying to mask the issue with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how regularly your filter should be exchanged. From what we’ve seen, 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 trap more dust but may reduce your equipment’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you could tempted to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your comfort unit. It’s extremely unrealistic your system was created to work with level 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.