Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and measurements, and some have specifications that others don't. In most cases we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

All filters are classified with MERV ratings, which range from 1–20. MERV is short for minimum efficiency reporting value.

A bigger ranking indicates the filter can grab finer particles. This sounds good, but a filter that catches finer dirt can become obstructed faster, increasing pressure on your equipment. If your system isn’t made to work with this model of filter, it might lower airflow and lead to other troubles.

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

All filters with a MERV rating of 5 should get many common annoyance, such as pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to stop mold spores, but we advise having a professional get rid of mold rather than trying to mask the trouble with a filter.

Usually the packaging shows how regularly your filter should be replaced. In our experience, the accordion-style filters hold up better, and are worth the additional cost.

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

While you could tempted to use a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your comfort unit. It’s very unlikely your system was made to handle that amount of resistance. If you’re troubled by indoor air quality in Cocoa, think over installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works alongside your heating and cooling system.