Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and measurements, and some have specifications that others don't. In most situations we advise getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.

All filters are assigned MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV is short for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger value demonstrates the filter can catch more miniscule substances. This sounds good, but a filter that catches finer dust can become obstructed more rapidly, heightening pressure on your system. If your system isn’t created to run with this kind of filter, it could reduce airflow and create other problems.

Unless you live in a medical center, you likely don’t need a MERV ranking above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to operate with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Occasionally you will find that good 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, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can trap 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 know, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the additional cost.

Filters are manufactured from different materials, with disposable fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters trap more dust but may limit your unit’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 comfort unit. It’s highly unlikely your system was created to run with amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Tempe, think over getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works in tandem with your comfort system.