Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies, affects 60 million people per year in the US. In addition to seasonal allergies, many people also have perennial allergic rhinitis, which is a chronic condition.
If you're part of the millions of allergy sufferers, you're likely looking for ways to reduce your symptoms and breathe easier. So, how useful is your HVAC filter in this situation?
Keep reading to discover the answer to "Are air filters allergy friendly?"
What Do Air Filters Do?
Most people believe your HVAC air filter traps dust and other particles to keep your air clean. While it does help, the primary purpose of a furnace filter is to keep dust and other contaminants out of your sensitive HVAC equipment.
Contaminants that your filter traps include:
- Pet dander
- Fungal particles
Without a filter, dust can clog your system and make it work harder, which can result in the equipment breaking down faster. Keep in mind that a high-efficiency filter will trap more contaminants than a standard filter.
That being said, the filters on your heating and cooling equipment do provide the benefit of helping improve indoor air quality, even if it isn't their primary purpose.
What Is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the quality of the air inside and around buildings and structures, especially in relation to the comfort of the occupants. It's the air inside your home.
Poor indoor air quality might mean the environment is full of pollutants and may be caused by:
- Tobacco products
- Fumes and chemicals from building materials
- Excessive moisture
- Combustion appliances
- Cleaning chemicals
- And more
Improving IAQ can help allergy sufferers breathe easier at home. According to the EPA, the most effective way to do so is by removing pollutants and ventilating the air. Filtration works as an efficient supplement and can be accomplished with a portable air filter or by upgrading your HVAC air filter.
HVAC filters may remove some pollutants, but are air filters allergy friendly? Only if you regularly replace them!
How Often Should You Replace Your Filter?
Dirty air filters can backfire on you, blowing trapped dust, dirt, and other pollutants throughout the home. That's why it's critical to regularly check your filters and replace them as soon as you notice they're dirty.
Replacing the air filter protects your HVAC equipment and also helps keep the air in your home cleaner.
How often you should replace the filter comes down to a few factors. For instance, depending on where you live, you'll want to change it after pollen season if you want to fight those summer allergies.
Most manufacturers suggest replacing the filter every 30 to 90 days. However, this is merely a guideline. If you suffer from allergies, you might want to check it more often to make sure it's still working.
You also want to ensure you get the right type and size so that pollutants can't sneak around the filter. For instance, you might need a 16x20x1 air filter for your system.
There are also different types of filters. The seven types for home use include:
- UV light filters
- Spun glass
Filters are rated through the MERV system, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. The higher the rating, the more effective it is.
What Are the Best Air Filters for Home Use?
The best air filters for home use, especially for those with allergies, are filters with a MERV rating of around 13.
On the MERV scale, 16 is the highest rating. However, while a filter with a MERV rating of 16 might be excellent at trapping small particles and dust, it can limit airflow.
Make sure your system is compatible with a high-efficiency filter.
In addition to MERV ratings, you may also see filters with an FPR rating or filter performance rating. FPR is a Home Depot rating system. The scale ranges from 4-10, with 10 being the best rated.
Other Ways to Reduce Indoor Allergens
The more steps you take to keep your indoor air quality clean, the easier it will be to deal with those pesky allergies.
A HEPA filter and portable air filtration device can keep the air cleaner, but it doesn't do much for settled allergens along the furniture, walls, and floors. As such, you want to be sure that you keep your home clean.
Dust ceiling fans, furniture, baseboards, and other areas of the home at least once a week. Vacuum carpeted flooring and rugs twice a week. Deep clean a minimum of once or twice a year.
You can naturally clean the air with plants and by boosting air circulation by opening windows.
Don't forget about your air conditioning system! Turning on the AC can cool the air in your home, which helps prevent the growth of common allergens like mold and fungus. Plus, the AC filter can trap large particles and improve air quality.
Are Air Filters Allergy Friendly?
So, considering all we've covered today, are air filters allergy friendly? They can certainly help improve indoor air quality by trapping common allergens such as dust mites, pollen, dander, and more. A furnace filter's main job is to protect your sensitive HVAC equipment, but it also helps keep the air cleaner.
That said, it only helps if you keep the filter clean. Dirty filters push dust and allergens around the house. Remember to regularly check and replace your filter for the best results.
We know that remembering to go to the store and pick up a filter is time consuming, and it's so easy to forget. We make the process much easier with our air filter subscription service. Shop our selectionnow to find the right size for your home, and never worry about dirty filters again!
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