Are all HVAC air filters the same?

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

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

A higher rating indicates the filter can trap more miniscule particles. This sounds great, but a filter that stops finer dirt can become blocked more rapidly, heightening pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t made to run with this kind of filter, it might reduce airflow and cause other issues.

Unless you are in a medical facility, you more than likely don’t need a MERV rating above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC equipment is specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV level below 13. Occasionally you will find that good systems have been engineered to run with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

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

Usually the packaging shows how frequently your filter should be exchanged. In our experience, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the added cost.

Filters are manufactured from different materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters catch more debris 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, keep in mind that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your comfort equipment. It’s extremely unrealistic your system was created to run with amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Charlotte, think over adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works in tandem with your HVAC system.