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 getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your unit.

All filters are assigned MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A larger rating demonstrates the filter can trap finer particles. This sounds good, but a filter that stops finer dust can become blocked more quickly, heightening pressure on your equipment. If your equipment isn’t designed to run with this kind of filter, it can lower airflow and create other troubles.

Unless you reside in a medical center, you more than likely don’t require a MERV level above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC equipment is specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV rating below 13. Occasionally you will discover that decent systems have been made to work with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should catch many common triggers, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can catch mold spores, but we recommend having a professional get rid of mold rather than trying to conceal the issue with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging demonstrates how frequently your filter should be changed. In our experience, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the additional price.

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

While you may be interested in using a HEPA filter, remember that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort system. It’s highly unrealistic your equipment was created to run with amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Jackson, consider getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works along with your HVAC system.