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 instances we recommend installing the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your unit.

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

A bigger ranking demonstrates the filter can trap more miniscule particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that catches finer dirt can become blocked more rapidly, heightening pressure on your system. If your system isn’t made to work with this model of filter, it could reduce airflow and cause other issues.

Unless you reside in a hospital, you probably don’t have to have a MERV rating above 13. In fact, most residential HVAC units are specifically made to run with a filter with a MERV level below 13. Occasionally you will learn that decent systems have been made to operate with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

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

Sometimes the packaging indicates how regularly your filter should be exchanged. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the additional expense.

Filters are made from differing materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dirt but may limit your unit’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 heating and cooling equipment. It’s highly doubtful your equipment was made to run with level of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Orlando, think over getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works in tandem with your heating and cooling system.