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 instances we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your unit.

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

A higher value means the filter can trap finer particles. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that stops finer dust can become obstructed faster, heightening pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t designed to function with this model of filter, it may lower airflow and cause other issues.

Unless you reside in a medical facility, you likely don’t have to have a MERV rating above 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC equipment is specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV ranking lower than 13. Sometimes you will learn that good systems have been made to work with a MERV level of 8 or 11.

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

Often the packaging demonstrates how often your filter should be replaced. From what we know, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the added cost.

Filters are created from varying materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dirt but may decrease your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you may be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your comfort system. It’s extremely doubtful your unit was created to handle that level of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in West Palm Beach, consider installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works alongside your heating and cooling system.