Looking at Filter

Few things are worse than trying to enjoy a fun, well-deserved summer as a wave of seasonal allergies hit. Even the standard allergy medicines sometimes seem to do little to keep allergies at bay. You may not be able to control the allergens outside of your home, but you can certainly turn your Pottstown, Pennsylvania, home into an allergy-free sanctuary. Identifying the type of filter that best fits the needs of your family and your home is the first step to creating a living space with healthy air. Here’s how to determine which air filter is right for your home.

Why Are Air Filters Important?

The first step to tackling poor indoor air quality is to address your HVAC system’s air filter. This filter, as a part of your air conditioning and/or heating unit, removes dust, dirt, and other irritants from the air. However, no filter will last forever. Instead, filters must be well-maintained and replaced once a month. Neglecting to take proper care of air filters or using an ineffective filter, can result in even worse indoor air quality and may even adversely affect the efficiency of your HVAC system.

MERV Ratings

Have you ever been to a movie, regretted going, then checked the movie reviews later only to find out that everyone else thought it was terrible as well? Don’t you wish that you had read those reviews before wasting money on the movie? The same principle can apply to choosing an air filter.

Before picking any kind of air filter, do some research and find out the MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is measured between one and 20. The higher the MERV rating, the more particles that the filter will catch and the better your indoor air quality will be.

However, most air filters used in residential living spaces only have MERV ratings ranging from one to 16. Filters with a MERV between 17 and 20 are designated as HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) filters and remove about 99.97 percent of irritants out of the air and are mostly used in hospitals and commercial applications. Unfortunately, these filters greatly restrict air flow and may damage residential systems. Before you even consider installing a HEPA filter, consult with your HVAC contractor.

You may be thinking, if such a MERV scale exists, why don’t all air filter manufacturers build filters that always get around a 16 on the MERV scale? Because the MERV rating reflects the size of particles caught by the filter. The higher the number, the smaller the particles it can catch and the more expensive it will be. Some people simply don’t need a filter that can catch the smallest particles, but for individuals with severe asthma or allergies, those higher-rated filters are well worth considering.

Types of Air Filters

Keeping all of the previous information in mind, you may still be wondering which filter would best fit into your home. Here are the different types to choose from:

  • Washable Filters: If you have allergies, these may not be your best option. While these filters can be washed and reused, they have very low MERV values and can even accumulate extra fungi and bacteria.
  • Fiberglass Filters: With a MERV value of four or less, these filters are generally used to keep your air conditioner clean rather than your actual air. They are easy to replace and inexpensive, but remove less than 10 percent of airborne irritants.
  • Pleated and Polyester Filters: Though these filters are similar to fiberglass filters, they remove between 70 to 85 percent of irritants and have a MERV rating between eight and 13. They are especially effective at catching dust.
  • HEPA Filters: As mentioned above, these more expensive and potentially system-harming filters should only be used when someone in a living space is extremely sensitive to poor indoor air quality.

Choosing the right air filter for your needs will lead to greater indoor air quality, greater HVAC efficiency, and an overall better summer. For more questions regarding air filters or to have a new one installed in your home, give New Age Air a call at 610-298-0271.

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