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 using the filter your HVAC manufacturer suggests pairing with your equipment.

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

A larger rating indicates the filter can catch smaller particles. This sounds great, but a filter that stops finer substances can clog more rapidly, heightening pressure on your system. If your equipment isn’t created to work with this model of filter, it might decrease airflow and lead to other issues.

Unless you reside in a medical facility, you more than likely don’t need a MERV ranking greater than 13. In fact, many residential HVAC systems are specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV rating below 13. Frequently you will discover that quality systems have been engineered to run with a MERV rating of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should get the majority of the common annoyance, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we recommend having a professional eliminate mold rather than trying to hide the problem with a filter.

Often the packaging shows how often your filter should be changed. From what we’ve seen, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the additional expense.

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

While you might be interested in using a HEPA filter, know that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling unit. It’s very doubtful your equipment was created to work with level of resistance. If you’re concerned about indoor air quality in Gainesville, think over installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This product works alongside your comfort system.