Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and measurements, and some have specs that others don't. In most instances we suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your system.

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

A larger value demonstrates the filter can trap finer substances. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer dirt can become blocked faster, raising pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t designed to run with this type of filter, it may lower airflow and lead to other troubles.

Unless you reside in a hospital, you more than likely don’t need a MERV ranking greater than 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically designed to operate with a filter with a MERV ranking under 13. Occasionally you will find that decent systems have been made to run with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should trap many everyday nuisances, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can catch mold spores, but we suggest having a professional get rid of mold instead of trying to mask the issue with a filter.

Usually the packaging shows how frequently your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added expense.

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

While you might be interested in using a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s highly unlikely your unit was designed to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Ocala, think about getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works alongside your heating and cooling system.