Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have features that others don't. In most cases we suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your equipment.

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

A higher ranking demonstrates the filter can trap finer particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer dirt can become blocked more rapidly, increasing pressure on your system. If your system isn’t made to function with this type of filter, it could reduce airflow and lead to other issues.

Unless you live in a hospital, you likely don’t require a MERV level greater than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC units are specifically made to work with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Frequently you will find that decent systems have been engineered to work with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should trap most of the everyday nuisances, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional remove mold rather than trying to conceal the issue with a filter.

Usually the packaging indicates how frequently your filter should be replaced. From what we know, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the additional cost.

Filters are created from differing materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters grab more dirt but may decrease your equipment’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you may tempted to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your comfort unit. It’s highly doubtful your equipment was designed to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Nashville, think over adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works along with your heating and cooling system.