Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have specifications that others don't. In most cases we advise installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your equipment.

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

A higher value demonstrates the filter can trap more miniscule substances. This sounds great, but a filter that traps finer substances can become obstructed faster, heightening pressure on your system. If your unit isn’t made to run with this type of filter, it might lower airflow and lead to other troubles.

Unless you reside in a hospital, you more than likely don’t need a MERV rating above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC systems are specifically made to run with a filter with a MERV level lower than 13. Sometimes you will discover that quality systems have been engineered to run with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should trap many daily annoyance, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to catch mold spores, but we advise having a professional remove mold instead of trying to hide the trouble with a filter.

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

Filters are made from varying materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being the most common. Polyester and pleated filters catch more debris but may limit your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you may want to use a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your comfort unit. It’s highly doubtful your system was designed to work with kind of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Oklahoma City, think over adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works in tandem with your comfort system.