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How Can Air Filters Help Your Allergies?

  • August 2013
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If you suffer from allergies, you’re no doubt familiar with the unpleasant tickle or tell-tale itch that signals an oncoming problem. There’s not much you can do to control allergens outside your home, but there’s no reason you should put up with having these irritants following you into the house. The proper filter will help you keep the air in your home breathable and allergen-free for optimum comfort.

How Filters Work

Air filters trap airborne particulate matter as it passes through. These filters are often placed in your heating or air conditioning unit so the heated or cooled air is forced through the filter before circulating through the home. Air purifiers use this technology to clean the air in a specific room. The filter traps common allergens such as dust mites, mold, bacteria, pollen, and dander. This leaves the air that exits much cleaner than the air that enters.

Comparing Air Filters

There are many different types of air filters available for your home. You can compare filters easily using their minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV ratings. The MERV rating is a number between 1 and 16. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the air filter is. A filter with a high MERV rating creates a great deal of resistance and captures even extremely small particles. A filter with a lower MERV rating will filter out large particles, but it will still allow many smaller pollutants to pass through.

The Environmental Protection Agency has defined the most common uses for filters of varying MERV ratings. These guidelines will help you identify the most appropriate filter for your needs:

  • MERV rating between 13 and 16: Typically used for hospital inpatient care facilities, general surgery facilities and other commercial buildings that require superior filtration
  • MERV rating between 9 and 12: Usually chosen for hospital laboratories, better commercial buildings and superior residential buildings
  • MERV rating between 5 and 8: Used for better residential buildings, standard commercial facilities and industrial workplaces
  • MERV rating between 1 and 4: Commonly used in residential window air filters for minimum filtration

HEPA Filters

High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are the best option for removing allergens from the air. This is a type of mechanical air filter with a very fine mesh that captures most particles. HEPA filters surpass traditional MERV ratings. They would score a 17 to 20 on this scale, for comparison purposes. It’s important to note that while HEPA filters are extremely efficient for filtering particles out of the air, they will not filter gaseous substances out. Combine an activated carbon filter with your HEPA filter to eliminate both particle and gaseous pollutants.

Choosing the Right Filter

If you suffer from serious allergies, a HEPA filter is the best choice. This filter will eliminate more allergens than any other option. It’s worth noting, however, that a bag or box filter with a high MERV rating is very comparable and will provide excellent filtration as well. HEPA filters are much more expensive than other options and your HVAC system may need to be modified to accommodate them. If you’re concerned about the cost-effectiveness of the product, a HEPA filter may not be the best option. In this case, choose a filter with the highest MERV rating you can afford for effective allergen filtration.

Considerations With Air Filters

All air filters provide a barrier that air must pass through. The stronger the filter, the thicker the barrier. This will impact the overall airflow in your home. When you install a new filter, you must adjust the airflow to compensate for the changes caused by the filter. A professional can help you modify other equipment in the home so you can still enjoy a comfortable airflow with your new filter.

Your filter will also need regular maintenance to stay in top condition. Plan to change it regularly so it’s always in working condition. A clean filter is much more effective and efficient than a dirty one.

The Bottom Line for Allergies

Allergies are usually caused by certain airborne particles. The right filter will keep the majority of these particles out of the air, providing much-needed relief. Vacuuming, changing the sheets and regularly cleaning window coverings will also help eliminate airborne allergens. A clean home and quality filter are a winning combination for allergy relief.

For more information on air filters and other home comfort topics, contact us at Meyer’s. We’ve been serving the Northwest Indiana and south Chicagoland area since 1951.

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