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 situations we suggest using the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your equipment.

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

A higher ranking means the filter can trap finer particles. This sounds good, but a filter that stops finer dust can become blocked more rapidly, raising pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t created to run with this model of filter, it can lower airflow and cause other troubles.

Unless you are in a medical facility, you likely don’t have to have a MERV rating above 13. In fact, many residential HVAC equipment is specifically designed to work with a filter with a MERV ranking under 13. Sometimes you will learn that decent systems have been made to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should get many everyday nuisances, including 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 manufactured from varying materials, with single-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dust but may decrease your system’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you could 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 designed to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in West Palm Beach, consider getting a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works alongside your heating and cooling system.