Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and measurements, and some have specs that others don't. In most cases we advise installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your equipment.

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

A larger value indicates the filter can trap more miniscule substances. This sounds great, but a filter that traps finer substances can clog faster, raising pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t made to function with this type of filter, it could restrict airflow and create other issues.

Unless you are in a medical center, you more than likely don’t need a MERV rating greater than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC units are specifically engineered to run with a filter with a MERV ranking under 13. Sometimes you will discover that quality systems have been made to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should trap many everyday annoyance, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters say they can stop mold spores, but we recommend having a professional remove mold instead of trying to hide the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how frequently your filter should be changed. In our experience, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the additional price.

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

While you might tempted to use a HEPA filter, remember that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your comfort system. It’s highly unlikely your system was designed to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Fort Lauderdale, think over getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works in tandem with your HVAC system.