Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and size, and some have features that others don't. In most cases we advise installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.

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

A higher value demonstrates the filter can catch smaller particles. This sounds good, but a filter that traps finer substances can become obstructed more quickly, raising pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t designed to work with this kind of filter, it might decrease airflow and cause other problems.

Unless you reside in a medical center, you probably don’t have to have a MERV level above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC equipment is specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV rating under 13. Frequently you will discover that decent systems have been engineered to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should catch most of the everyday triggers, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can stop mold spores, but we recommend having a professional remove mold as opposed to trying to conceal the trouble with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging demonstrates how frequently your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the added price.

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

While you might be interested in using a HEPA filter, remember that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC system. It’s extremely doubtful your system was created to work with level of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Knoxville, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works in tandem with your HVAC system.