Many people suffer from allergies, and indoor air quality (IAQ) either makes it easier or more difficult to manage symptoms. If your goal is to improve IAQ and limit the presence of allergens in your home, picking out the appropriate AC filter is essential. Learn which air filter ratings are preferred for people with allergies and tips for choosing11 the right air conditioning system filter.
Allergens and Indoor Air Quality
Allergens are elements that generate allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Frequent 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 accumulate on surfaces, causing problems 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 lower the amount of allergens is a key component.
Do Filters Help Reduce Allergy Symptoms?
Traditional AC filters are not well equipped to cut down on allergy symptoms. Most are merely supposed to reduce dust particles, textile fibers and other large airborne contaminants from entering your HVAC system. A higher-end filter is necessary to trap32 allergens and stop them from circulating through your home.
The most effective 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 example, a MERV 8 filter can trap pollen and mold spores, while a MERV 13 filter can capture smoke particles and large bacteria. An allergy air conditioner filter with a high enough MERV rating minimizes 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 small as 0.3 microns in size. While this makes them extremely good at removing allergens like dust, mold spores, bacteria and viruses from the air, most HEPA filters slow airflow so severely that they are not practical for residential properties. Consult51 a professional before getting a HEPA filter to determine if your air conditioning system is compatible.
Are Allergy Filters Worth the Expense?
While allergy air filters for air conditioners tend to be more costly than standard filters, the benefits usually outweigh the costs for allergy sufferers. After all, paying for a high-quality air conditioner filter to help reduce allergies helps maintain excellent indoor air quality and reduces allergy symptoms, strengthening overall health and well-being. Plus, 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 buy yourself one.
Tips for Choosing an AC Filter
Picking out the best air filter is vital for good IAQ and fewer allergy symptoms. Here are some essential tips and strategies to help you choose the most appropriate air conditioner filter for allergies:
- Consider the MERV rating: Pick a filter with a MERV rating suited for your needs. For many allergy sufferers, a filter rated MERV 11 to 13 provides the ideal balance between allergen capture and airflow efficiency.
- Choose the appropriate filter size: Air filters are offered 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 effectiveness. Read your HVAC system’s manual or reach out to a professional for help determining the correct filter size.
- Try 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 best of all. The electrostatic charge helps these filters attract and capture allergens more effectively than standard filters with equivalent designs and materials.
- Replace your filter on a regular basis: Once you select a filter, don't forget to change it often for optimal performance. A good strategy is to replace disposable filters every 30 to 90 days, but check the manufacturer’s instructions 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 an experienced technician 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 conditions, upgrading your HVAC system's filter is one of the best things you can do to manage your symptoms. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help you select118 and install the most appropriate air filtration system for your home. For more suggestions about our indoor air quality services, please reach out to a Service Experts office near you today.