Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have specifications that others don't. In most situations we advise using the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your equipment.

All filters are assigned MERV ratings, which vary from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A bigger value demonstrates the filter can catch smaller substances. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer dust can become blocked more rapidly, raising pressure on your equipment. If your system isn’t created to run with this kind of filter, it could lower airflow and create other problems.

Unless you live in a medical center, you more than likely don’t need a MERV ranking above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to run with a filter with a MERV ranking under 13. Occasionally you will find that decent systems have been engineered to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should catch most of the everyday nuisances, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can stop mold spores, but we recommend having a professional remove mold as opposed to trying to hide the issue with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how regularly your filter should be changed. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the added cost.

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

While you might be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your comfort unit. It’s extremely unlikely your equipment was created to work with level of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Tempe, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works along with your comfort system.