Spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming. The grass is starting to turn green. Trees are bursting with new life.
And your allergies are in full swing.
When the pollen count is high, all you want to do is hide out in your home or office and wait for nature to calm down. Unfortunately, that probably won’t help.
Your HVAC system has a furnace filter in place to filter out allergens that fill the air. But if you don’t have the right air filter for allergies, it will have very little impact on the way you feel.
Air Filters Are For HVAC Equipment
Many people assume all air filters in furnaces and air conditioners keep dust and allergens out of the air. That’s not what they were designed to do. Their purpose is actually to keep dust out of the equipment to prevent damage to the system. Too much dust in the equipment can require additional maintenance and even shorten the lifespan.
While ordinary air filters can remove some dust from the air (if changed regularly), they do little to trap the particles that cause you to sneeze during allergy season.
Paper Filters Can’t Trap Allergens
When you visit your big box store, you’ll see a variety of different kinds of air filters. Those paper filters are designed to trap large particles that can accumulate around the working parts of your system - like the motor and fan. However, small particles like mold, bacteria, and pollen are much smaller in size, so they slip right by those fibers weaved in paper filters. That means they have the opportunity to blow throughout your ventilation system and out into the rooms of your home.
Air filters for allergies are designed to block smaller particles. They are called high energy particulate air filters, or HEPA filters. They are made from densely packed layers of glass fibers instead of paper, with the best ones rated to pull out up to 99 percent of pollen, dust, and other particles in the air you breathe every day.
Not All HEPA Filters Are Created Equal
Just because it says it’s a HEPA filter doesn’t mean it’s effective at its job. To get the best results, you’ll also have to look at the MERV rating.
HVAC HEPA filters are rated for how well they block particles of varying sizes. This rating system is called the minimum efficiency reporting system, or MERV. You’ll fine MERV ratings of 1 to 16, with the higher numbers indicating filters that are capable of removing the smallest particles.
Your HVAC service professional can help you decide the best air filter for you. Every furnace and air conditioner is designed to work with specific components, and selecting the wrong MERV rating can actually cause your system to work inefficiently.
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