Are all HVAC air filters the same?

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

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

A larger value means the filter can trap more miniscule substances. This sounds great, but a filter that traps finer dirt can become obstructed faster, heightening pressure on your system. If your equipment isn’t made to run with this kind of filter, it may reduce airflow and lead to other troubles.

Unless you reside in a medical facility, you probably don’t require a MERV ranking higher than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to run with a filter with a MERV rating lower than 13. Frequently you will discover that decent systems have been made to work with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should catch many everyday nuisances, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can trap mold spores, but we suggest having a professional get rid of mold as opposed to trying to conceal the trouble with a filter.

Usually the packaging shows how regularly your filter should be replaced. In our experience, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added cost.

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

While you may tempted to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC equipment. It’s extremely unrealistic your system was designed to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Tulsa, think about installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works along with your HVAC system.