Air filters

Disposable Versus Reusable Air Filters

filter MERV ratingYour air filter is one of the most important aspects of your HVAC system. A clean, quality filter will improve indoor air quality and improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.

Since indoor air is generally more polluted than outdoor air, good air filter is essential. Helping remove chemicals from cleaners, pet dander, dust, allergens, an effective air filter can help improve your indoor space and help you breathe easier.

There are two basic categories of HVAC air filters – disposable and reusable. Here are some pros and cons of each category. Use this information to help you choose the type of perfect air filter for your home.

Disposable Air Filters

The most common type of HVAC filter, disposable filters, are designed for one-time use. You will need to replace these filters must regularly to maintain sufficient airflow. Over time, these filters will become clogged with dust, dirt, hair, and other debris.

Disposable air filters come in a variety of filtration levels. The more filtration power a filter has, the smaller the particles it will remove from your indoor air. Filtration is indicated by a MERV rating. MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value.” This number indicates how effectively the filter removes particles from the air as it passes through.

Most professional suggest replacing your disposable air filter monthly. Be sure to check with your system’s owner’s manual or an HVAC professional for specific requirements.

One of the biggest advantages of using a disposable air filter is the convenience. They require no special cleaning or washing. Simply pop out the old one and replace it with a brand new one.

Most disposable filters are typically composed of metal mesh, fiberglass filtration material, and a cardboard frame. Recycling these materials individually is not difficult. However, separating them can be a logistical nightmare for local recycling centers. Also, since fiberglass is non-biodegradable, it will take up space indefinitely in the local landfill.

Another drawback to conventional disposable filters is the cost. You will need to purchase replacement filters several times a year, which becomes expensive over time.

Reusable Air Filters

Reusable HVAC filters, although less common than their disposable counterparts, are growing in popularity. Rather than tossing these filters in the garbage when dirt and dust begins to build up, you simple was reusable filters and reuse them.

Reusable air filters cost more initially than disposable. However, after the upfront cost, the only investment is the time it takes to wash them. A reusable filter, when properly maintained will save you significant money over time.

With a reusable filter, you never have to worry about running to the hardware or home improvement store to buy a replacement. As long as a little dirt and dust doesn’t scare you, maintenance is as simple as flushing the filter with water and then allowing it to dry before replacing it. To ensure your reusable filter is sanitary, you can also a purchase a specialized filter cleaner that you can easily purchase online.

Reusable HVAC filters do require an amount of patience. Replacing the filter before it has had sufficient time to dry attract mold into your HVAC unit. This will affect your air quality, wreak havoc on your system, and could potentially cause health problems.

If you are the impatient sort, consider purchasing two reusable filters. Then simply alternate the filters, replacing with a dry one each time cleaning is required.

The Bottom Line

If you have concerns about indoor air quality, you may want to stick with a disposable HEPA filter. Reusable filters do little to combat cigarette smoke, pet dander, or cleaning chemicals. Consumers with allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivity may want to stay with high-quality disposable filters.

However, if saving money or going green are high on your list of priorities, a reusable HVAC filter may be exactly what you’ve been searching for.

If you have any questions about what type of HVAC filter is right for you, contact your local HVAC specialist for more details.

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What Filter MERV Rating Do I Need?

filter MERV ratingIf you’ve taken a look at your HVAC filters, you have probably noticed that each one has a MERV rating. MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value” and it has some important implications.

The filter’s MERV rating indicates how effectively the filter removes particles from the air as it passes through. The higher the MERV rating, the tinier particles it can catch, leaving you with cleaner, easier to breathe air.

There is a downside to using a filter with a high MERV rating, however. A filter with a high MERV rating will feature a denser filtration medium. It takes more force to push air through dense filtration medium. So, using a filter with a rating at the high end of the MERV scale puts significant strain on your HVAC system.

Finding the Best MERV Rating for Your Home

If you replace your HVAC filter with one that has an excessively high rating, your system will struggle to push air through the system. It has a similar effect running with an old, dusty filter, and your system will not run efficiently. As your system struggles to push air, accelerates the wear on the system’s components. This extra strain can lead to frequent expensive repairs.

To determine the best MERV rating for your home and HVAC system, start with the owner’s manual. Look in the manual for the listed maximum MERV rating. Using a filter with a value higher than the recommended limit immediately affects the system’s efficiency and will ultimately lead to costly future repairs.

Once you have determined the recommended MERV ratings for your system by checking the owner’s manual, it is time to consider other factors. If you or someone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies, you should consider selecting a filter with a MERV rating on the higher end of the recommended rating range. Also, if you have shedding pets or an abnormally dusty home, you’ll need to choose a higher rated filter.

The Numbers Explained

Filter MERV ratings range from 1 to 20. Most residential HVAC filters fall in the 1-4 range. However, it isn’t uncommon for some homeowners to use filters rated as high as 8 if they have special circumstances.

Filters with different MERV ratings are best suited for different circumstances. Here is a basic guide that covers the various MERV rating ranges and their capabilities.

MERV 1-4

Filters that fall into this rating range catch mostly large particles. Used primarily for residential use, these filters are effective at filtering dust, carpet fibers, insects and insect parts, and pollen.

 

MERV 5-8

Used in some residences, as well as most commercial and industrial settings, filters in this range capture smaller particles including mold spores, pet dander, fine dust, and even aerosol spray particles.

 

MERV 9-12

Filters in this range are rarely suitable for residential use. They are more commonly used for certain commercial buildings and some hospital settings. These filters have a dense filtration medium capable of capturing fumes from vehicle emissions, welding fumes, some larger bacteria, and dangerous lead dust.

 

MERV 13-16

Useful in hospital surgical centers and other places where heavy-duty filtration is necessary, filters in this range collect tiny smoke particles, various strains of bacteria, and fine particles emitted when a person sneezes.

 

MERV 17-20

At the highest end of the MERV scale, filters within this range are used in “clean rooms.” Also, utilized in locations where pharmaceuticals and sensitive electronics are manufactured, these filters remove carbon dust, the tiniest smoke particles, and even dangerous viruses.

 

While you won’t need filters at the highest end of the MERV rating scale, you do benefit from them. Whenever you take medication or use your cell phone you are enjoying a product whose development and manufacturing are dependent on high MERV filtration.

If you need help finding the appropriate filter for your home HVAC system, contact your local HVAC professionals for recommendations.

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Improving Indoor Air Quality with Your HVAC Filter

Pleated Air FIlter

Pleated Air Filter

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American will spend 93 percent of their time indoors. With so much of our lives spent inside, the quality of our indoor air is important, especially when the EPA claims the average indoor environment is five times more toxic than the air outside.

How Regular HVAC Maintenance Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

Most homeowners don’t realize they can improve the quality of the air inside their homes by performing regular HVAC maintenance. Residential HVAC systems are usually forced-air units that blow cooled or heated air through ductwork.  HVAC systems have air filters to trap dust and keep it out of the mechanical elements of the system. These filters essentially protect your HVAC unit from potential damage caused by the dirt and debris that floats around inside of your home.

However, there is an added benefit to keeping your system’s filters clean that extends beyond the protection of the internal mechanisms of your HVAC unit.

Improve Air Quality By Upgrading Your Filter

You can use your HVAC unit to help improve indoor air quality by upgrading the filter. All filters have a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. This rating indicates the size particle the filter medium will capture. Particles that are too small to pass through end up trapped in the filter and therefore are not released back into the indoor air.

Filters for residential purposes generally have a MERV rating that falls between 1 and 16. A filter with a higher MERV rating is able to trap smaller particles which results in cleaner air.

Types of Air Filters

Most fiberglass filters have a MERV rating that falls in the 1 to 4 range. While these filters will capture most dust particles, they are incapable of trapping more irritating particles. Mold spores, pollen, pet dander, and dust mite waste will pass right through them.

Pleated filters usually have MERV ratings between 5 and 8. These filters will trap most irritating particles.

Some filters may have a rating of 13 or higher. Before installing a filter with a high MERV rating above 8, it is important to contact your HVAC technician or consult your HVAC system’s manual. A filter too dense for your unit will hinder airflow and cause the system to run inefficiently.

Keeping Your Filters Clean

Most air filters are disposable and need to be replaced periodically. How frequently you should replace your filters depends on several factors. If you have a home with pets, smokers, or people with allergies, your filter should be replaced more often.

Thicker filters and filters with higher MERV ratings will also need to be replaced more frequently. Although, pleated filters will last longer than fiberglass ones.

If you are concerned about how often you should replace your filter, contact your local HVAC technician for help.

Clean Filters Help Keep Ducts Clean

A clean filter will also help keep you ductwork cleaner. However, even with frequent filter changes, dust and debris can build up in your ducts over time. Look for dust deposits around your registers. This could be a sign of dirty ductwork.

By removing your register covers and using a flashlight, you can check to see if dust and debris has collected in your ducts. Ducts that are overly dirty require professional duct cleaning to keep your system running smoothly and the air inside your home clean and easy to breathe.

The best way to prevent dirt from building up in your system ducts is to check your filter at least once a month and replace it when it is dirty.

 

By upgrading your HVAC filters and keeping them clean, not only will your system run more efficiently, but everyone in your home will breathe easier.

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How to Use Your AC to Reduce Allergy Season Flare Ups

With spring comes wildflowers, sunshine, new life…..and you guessed it — allergies.

Springtime activities such as hiking, swimming or tending a garden are treats some people look forward to all year. Reality is, sometimes allergens can put a major kink in some of our favorite seasonal pursuits. As it is, most of the state of Pennsylvania is already facing medium to medium-high pollen threats, and we’ve only now turned the official corner into spring.

Understandably so, when the allergens in the air make the season feel more like a nightmare for the respiratory system than another day in paradise, many retreat to the “safe” indoors.

While seeking haven inside your air-conditioned home may help you avoid allergens landing on your skin and clothing, if you don’t have the right air filters or you aren’t changing your filters regularly, the benefit of staying indoors might not be worth the Vitamin D sacrifice.

Contrary to popular belief, typical air filters do not prevent allergens from traveling indoors. Average filters are intended to cut down on dust build up in AC equipment in order to keep the system running flawlessly. Unfortunately, most of them do just that and only that, leaving allergen haunted residents feeling just as miserable while indoors.

Changing the Air Filters

Experts recommend changing your air filters once every three months, at the very least. For allergies, this means the air coming into your home will be cleaner. If you leave your normal air filters in for lengthy periods, such as a year or more, you’re probably punishing your lungs. Dust builds up in the filter over time, as it should, and eventually, the filter contains so much dust and that’s what anyone indoors will inhale. Among the worst cases, you might actually be safer outdoors than inside with things like pet dander adding even more to your issues.

In addition to helping prevent allergy symptoms, properly kept up filters can increase the efficiency of your AC system, saving you some serious cash.

Allergy-Preventing Filters

Typical filters may serve as a gatekeeper for dust and minimal allergens, but they won’t be saving the day by any means. Irritants such as pollen and bacteria still find their way into the air you’re breathing in while indoors.

If you want to battle the major allergens, look into more specialized filters, frequently referred to as HEPA filters. Even the smallest particles have a difficult time getting through these, with some HEPA filters blocking up to 99 percent of air contaminants. If even one of these filters isn’t helping, call a professional for a cleaning. It’ll be worth not missing any additional work or school.
Do your research and make sure to get this taken care of early on before the summer humidity brings the potential for  additional challenges, like mold.

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