Many people suffer from allergies, and indoor air quality (IAQ) either makes it easier or more challenging to manage symptoms. If your goal is to improve IAQ and limit the amount of allergens in your home, choosing the right AC filter is vital. Learn which air filter ratings are best for people living with allergies and recommendations for choosing11 the right air conditioning system filter.
Allergens and Indoor Air Quality
Allergens are substances that trigger allergic reactions in affected individuals. Common indoor allergens include:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Mold spores
- Tobacco smoke
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Bacteria and viruses
Common outdoor allergens include:
- Wildfire smoke
- Smog and ozone
These allergens can drift in the air or settle on surfaces, causing discomfort for allergy sufferers when inhaled, ingested or coming in contact with eyes. Maintaining clean indoor air is a critical part of managing allergy symptoms, and using an effective AC filter to capture allergens is a key component.
Do Filters Help Reduce Allergy Symptoms?
Traditional AC filters are not designed to lessen allergy symptoms. Most are only developed to reduce dust particles, textile fibers and other large airborne materials from entering your HVAC system. A higher-end filter is necessary to trap32 allergens and restrict them from circulating through your home.
The ideal AC filters for allergies have a high minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV rating, which indicates37 their effectiveness at capturing small particles on a scale of 1 to 20. For instance, a MERV 8 filter can catch pollen and mold spores, while a MERV 13 filter can also remove very small smoke particles and large bacteria. An allergy AC filter with a high enough MERV rating will lower the airborne allergens for much-needed relief.
Be aware44 that MERV ratings of 17 to 20 describe high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters designed to capture at least 99.97 percent of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns in size. While this makes them very effective at removing allergens like dust, mold spores, bacteria and viruses from the air, most HEPA filters restrict airflow so severely that they become impractical for residential applications. Consult51 a professional before installing a HEPA filter to determine if your air conditioning system is compatible.
Are Allergy Filters Worth the Cost?
While allergy air filters for air conditioners are typically more costly than standard filters, the benefits usually outweigh the costs for allergy sufferers. After all, investing in a high-quality AC filter to alleviate discomfort from allergies helps maintain superior indoor air quality and reduces allergy symptoms, boosting overall health and well-being. Additionally, using a filter with a higher MERV rating can extend your HVAC system’s life by helping it stay clean and run efficiently. Remember these long-term benefits of allergy filters when deciding whether to purchase one.
Techniques for Choosing an AC Filter
Selecting the correct air filter is necessary for good IAQ and less severe allergy symptoms. Here are some essential tips and methods to help you choose the perfect HVAC system filter for allergies:
- Consider the MERV rating: Choose a filter with a MERV rating appropriate for your needs. For many allergy sufferers, a filter rated MERV 11 to 13 provides the very best balance between allergen capture and airflow efficiency.
- Choose the proper filter size: Air filters come in various sizes, so select one that fits your HVAC system perfectly. Incorrectly sized filters allow allergens to blow right through the filter, undermining the filter’s efficiency. Read your HVAC system’s manual or reach out to a professional for help determining the right filter size.
- Opt for a pleated electrostatic filter: Pleated filters have a larger surface area for capturing allergens and are typically more effective than flat panel filters. Those with electrostatic characteristics are better yet. The electrostatic charge helps these filters attract and trap allergens in a more efficient manner than standard filters with equivalent designs and materials.
- Replace your filter routinely: Once you select a filter, don't forget to change it often for optimal performance. The general rule is to switch out disposable filters every 30 to 90 days, but check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the recommended replacement interval.
- Contact a professional: If you’re uncertain about which filter is best for your needs or how to maintain your HVAC system properly, ask a licensed professional to help you make an informed decision.
Install a High-Quality Air Filtration System in Your Home
If you or someone in your household has allergies, asthma or other respiratory ailments, replacing your AC filter is one of the easiest things you can do to manage your symptoms. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help you select118 and install the correct air filtration system for your home. For more details about our indoor air quality services, please contact a Service Experts office near you today.