Are all HVAC air filters the same?

No, HVAC air filters differ in quality and measurements, and some have features that others don't. In most cases we recommend using the filter your HVAC manufacturer recommends pairing with your system.

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

A higher rating means the filter can grab smaller particulates. This sounds great, but a filter that catches finer dust can become obstructed faster, raising pressure on your equipment. If your equipment isn’t designed to work with this type of filter, it could decrease airflow and lead to other troubles.

Unless you live in a hospital, you likely don’t need a MERV rating higher than 13. In fact, the majority of residential HVAC systems are specifically made to operate with a filter with a MERV ranking below 13. Frequently you will find that decent systems have been made to operate with a MERV ranking of 8 or 11.

All filters with a MERV level of 5 should get many common triggers, including pollen, pet dander and dust. Some filters claim to be able to stop mold spores, but we suggest having a professional remove mold as opposed to trying to hide the trouble with a filter.

Sometimes the packaging demonstrates how often your filter should be exchanged. From what we know, the accordion-style filters work better, and are worth the added price.

Filters are made from differing materials, with one-use fiberglass filters being standard. Polyester and pleated filters catch more dirt but may reduce your unit’s airflow. Then there are HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

While you might tempted to use a HEPA filter, keep in mind that's like adding a MERV 16 filter in your comfort equipment. It’s extremely unlikely your unit was created to handle that level of resistance. If you’re worried about indoor air quality in Jacksonville, consider adding a HEPA-grade air filtration system. This equipment works alongside your HVAC system.