An air filter is a vital yet often overlooked element of a healthy HVAC system.
This lightweight barrier traps dust, allergens, pollens, and other debris from entering the air you breathe. It also makes your HVAC system’s job easier, improving its lifespan and minimizing the need for expensive repairs. Maintained air filters are a great contributor to ideal indoor air quality, so if someone in your household suffers from allergies or asthma, be sure to regularly clean and change your air filters.
Air Filters at Work
Regardless of the application, standard air filters all work similarly. They cleanse the air by passing it through a filter media that eliminates particles like dust, hair, pet fur, and dirt. They act as a sieve to seize particles in the filter media as air flows through it in simpler terms. The filter media’s fibers create a twisting passage to airflow. Particles that are bigger than the sieve holes get trapped in the media or on its surface, preventing exhaust into the clean airstream.
As the filter gets into operation, more and more particles get trapped within the dust and fibers, making airflow further restricted. At first, this works in your favor, as there is less space for particles to get through. However, eventually, this impedes the airflow, stopping particles from being brought into the filter entirely. At this point, you need to either clean the filter or change it, depending on the type of filter. If there is insufficient airflow going through the filter, the particles won’t get inside the filter to get trapped by the fibers and stay in the air.
Energy Efficiency Ratings
Consider the energy efficiency needs of your home. Filters, both disposable and reusable, are rated by the size of the particles they can filter. These ratings are per the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale. A lower MERV rating indicates that the filter effectively removes large particles, such as carpet fibers, pollen, and dust mites. A higher MERV rating suggests that the filter is better at catching small particles like bacteria, viruses, and smoke.
Another essential acronym is HEPA, also known as High-Efficiency Particulate Air. These filters use static electricity to trap particles in the air, and the correct energy efficiency will depend on the filter’s location. HEPA filters and high MERV ratings can potentially restrict airflow, whereas filters with low MERV ratings don’t filter particles.
What is the Recommended Air Filter for Allergies?
The best-known mechanical filter and is ideal for a household avoiding allergens is the high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. HEPA (a type of filter, not a brand name) was developed during World War II to prevent radioactive particles from escaping from laboratories.
A qualified HEPA filter captures at least ninety percent of all particles 0.3 microns or larger in diameter that enters it. Some filters available on the market claim to be certified HEPAs, but may not be as efficient, so find a system that meets reasonable HEPA filtration standards. Because these filters can capture a lot of particles, they tend to clog faster. When not replaced, possible airflow restriction can happen and put a strain on your HVAC system. Moreover, it’s not advisable to use HEPA filters if it’s not suitable for the kind of equipment you have. Take note that the wrong filter can increase your energy bills and even harm your HVAC system. Having an HVAC technician for a consultation and inspection would be the best idea to avoid unnecessary expenses. Blue Sky Heating and Air LLC trained and qualified technicians are willing to come to your help!
Other Ways to Improve Air Quality
There’s more than choosing the right filter. There are many steps toward enhancing the indoor air quality of your home. Listed below are other things you can do:
- Maintain the humidity level in your home below fifty percent. Do not use vaporizers or humidifiers.
- A vacuum cleaner with an installed HEPA filter helps reduce dust, pet dander, and other allergens. Remember, quick vacuuming stirs up dust that takes a couple of hours to settle back down.
- Do not allow smoking in the home at any time.
- During pollen season, you reduce the amount of pollen you’re tracking into the home through your shoes or clothes by removing them or using a tracking mat at the door.
- Groom your pet outside your house to cut down the amount of pet dander in the air. Wash your pet’s linens regularly.
- Scrub basements, bathrooms, sinks, and other tiled areas to cut down potential mold growth.
- An HVAC technician can help keep your heating and cooling system in top shape with regular inspections and maintenance. They can also suggest an inspection checklist to help you better care for your equipment.