Dealing with allergies and other conditions that are triggered by allergens can be difficult. Take these simple steps to minimize the allergens in your home.
Home air filters (also commonly called furnace filters) keep the coils and heat exchanges on the heating and air conditioning system clean. Not only will changing your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters improve the lifespan of your HVAC system, but it will help eliminate allergens from your home, making it one of the simplest changes you can make to improve your home's health.
The first thing you need to know is the size of your air filter. Most filters for residential HVAC systems are 1-inch thick, but some houses require up to 4-inch filters because of the volume of air circulating in the home. Be sure to check the dimensions of your air filter before purchasing, there are a lot of different size options.
Performance is affected by the size and density of the material used, as well as the size and volume of the particles being filtered. The least expensive filters have a layer of fibers (most often fiberglass), and in some cases, a filter is covered by a honeycomb-shaped grille. When you shop for HVAC filters, look for a model that is designed to capture microscopic particles including bacteria, mold spores and pollen.
Pleated filters are more efficient because the pleats provide a greater surface area to trap particles. Many pleated filters are electrostatically charged to help them attract and hold microscopic particles. There are even reusable filters, which are made of material that can be rinsed clean with water.
Most filters are labeled with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating number, which measures a filter's ability to trap particles ranging in size from 3.0 microns to 10.0 microns. A residential air filter commonly has a MERV rating of 1 to 12. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter is, and the more particles it can filter. MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating) an example of a vendor-specific rating system. MPR is a measurement of the efficiency a filter has to capture particulates, such as bacteria and smoke. As with MERV, a higher number means a more efficient filter.
Controlling the dust in your home can be crucial to preventing allergens from accumulating, and vacuuming twice a week is the simplest, most effective way of controlling irritating dust. You can maximize the effectiveness of your vacuum cleaner if you use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters are able to trap 99.97% of the particles that are .3 microns and larger, which means you will catch far more allergens like pet dander, dust or pollen than you would with a standard filter.
Don't be fooled by generic filters that are labeled as "HEPA-type" filters. A true HEPA filter will have a serial number and display HEPA test results on the package.
If some of your family members struggle with respiratory problems like asthma, you may want the added assurance of an air purifier to keep your air clean. Tabletop air purifiers are less expensive options, and they can be transported from room to room as needed. However, whole-room air purification units have larger filters and collecting plates, so they do a better job of cleaning the air.
Make sure that the unit you choose fits your room's dimensions. A smaller unit in a large room will not be effective. Also, avoid models that generate ozone as part of the cleaning operation. As you shop, look for a higher clean-air delivery rate (CADR) number. The higher the number, the stronger the air-cleaning power of your unit.
Shop Air Purifiers