Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters are different in quality and dimensions, and some have specifications that others don't. In most instances we recommend getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your unit.

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

A bigger ranking indicates the filter can trap more miniscule particulates. This sounds outstanding, but a filter that stops finer substances can clog more rapidly, raising pressure on your unit. If your unit isn’t designed to function with this kind of filter, it may lower airflow and cause other troubles.

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

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should trap most of the common triggers, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to stop mold spores, but we suggest having a professional remove mold rather than trying to conceal the trouble with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how regularly your filter should be changed. From what we know, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the additional price.

Filters are created from different materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being most typical. Polyester and pleated filters grab more debris but may reduce your unit’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you could be interested in using a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s extremely unlikely your system was made to run with kind of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Fort Myers, think about installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works along with your HVAC system.