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 cases we advise getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer says to pair with your system.

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

A bigger rating means the filter can grab more miniscule particles. This sounds good, but a filter that stops finer dust can clog more quickly, increasing pressure on your equipment. If your equipment isn’t made to function with this kind of filter, it may lower airflow and lead to other issues.

Unless you are in a medical center, you more than likely don’t have to have a MERV level above 13. In fact, many residential HVAC systems are specifically designed to run with a filter with a MERV level under 13. Frequently you will discover that decent systems have been engineered to work with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should trap the majority of the everyday triggers, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters assert they can trap mold spores, but we recommend having a professional get rid of mold instead of trying to mask the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging demonstrates how frequently your filter should be changed. From what we know, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the added cost.

Filters are made from differing materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters grab 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, remember that's like installing a MERV 16 filter in your HVAC system. It’s highly unlikely your system was designed to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Miami, think over installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This unit works alongside your heating and cooling system.