Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters vary in quality and size, and some have specs that others don't. In most situations we suggest getting the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your equipment.

All filters have MERV ratings, which go from 1–20. MERV means minimum efficiency reporting value.

A higher rating indicates the filter can trap finer substances. This sounds good, but a filter that traps finer dirt can clog faster, raising pressure on your system. If your system isn’t created to run with this type of filter, it could lower airflow and create other troubles.

Unless you live in a hospital, you likely don’t have to have a MERV rating higher than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC units are specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV rating under 13. Sometimes you will learn that quality systems have been designed to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV ranking of 5 should trap most of the common triggers, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to trap mold spores, but we advise having a professional get rid of mold rather than trying to mask the trouble with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging demonstrates how often your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters last longer, and are worth the extra expense.

Filters are made 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 might be interested in using a HEPA filter, remember that's like putting a MERV 16 filter in your heating and cooling equipment. It’s highly doubtful your unit was made to run with amount of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Naples, consider installing a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works along with your heating and cooling system.