Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and dimensions, and some have specs that others don't. In most situations we suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your system.

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

A larger value demonstrates the filter can grab finer particles. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that traps finer dust can become blocked more rapidly, raising pressure on your unit. If your equipment isn’t created to function with this model of filter, it may lower airflow and lead to other issues.

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

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should trap the majority of the everyday nuisances, like pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can catch mold spores, but we advise having a professional eliminate mold instead of trying to conceal the issue with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging demonstrates how regularly your filter should be changed. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added expense.

Filters are manufactured 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 installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort equipment. It’s extremely unlikely your unit was created to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Ocala, think over getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works alongside your heating and cooling system.