Improve Indoor Air Quality
Updated: Sep 19, 2020
Being a homeowner is tough, there’s so much more to remember and consider than you ever thought possible. From cleaning the gutters to evicting pest(y) tenants in your attic, you’ve got a lot on your plate! We get it, and we want to make things a little easier for you, so we’ve provided a short and sweet rundown on improving Indoor Air Quality in your home! After all, it kind of is our thing.
Top 3 Most Important Things:
1. The symptoms related to asthma, allergy and respiratory conditions can be significantly reduced in a home with great indoor air quality.
2. Reducing children’s exposure to airborne pathogens will reduce the chance that they develop asthma, allergies, or respiratory conditions throughout their lives. They’re far more susceptible to these conditions than adults.
3. Home indoor air quality can be managed easily and inexpensively. Improving ventilation and filtration, and reducing contaminants have been shown to provide substantial relief.
The easiest place to start improving indoor air quality? Your Air Filter!
Clean filters improve not only the air within a home, but they also increase the efficiency of your furnace. This one may blow your mind, but… filters can only clean the air when there's air going through them. So that means, when the system is off, no filtering is happening.
You may have heard the advice to put the fan in the "On" position instead of in "Auto." But not so fast! That seems like a nice idea and it will work in some places, but at the cost of higher energy bills. Not to mention, when the humidity levels are high, that measure could actually make your indoor air quality worse by raising the humidity levels even higher. The best thing to do here is size your system properly, don't put the fan in the "On" position, and get as much filtering as you can with your system.
Focus on minimizing pollutants
Let’s start with the filter. Depending on the type and density of the filter media, different filters can reduce or remove:
Dust: This is the most basic contaminant that air filters seek to remove. Even the least powerful air filter will prevent a substantial amount of dust from entering your HVAC system and circulating throughout your home. (usually MERV 1-4 These filters may actually make air quality worse by capturing allergens and spreading them throughout your home and vent system.)
Pollen, dust mites, and mold: Allergy sufferers should look for filters that trap these contaminants (usually MERV 5-8).
VOCs: If you’re sensitive to strong odors from cleaning products, household items, or anything that off-gases into your home, look for filters that specifically remove odors and VOCs. Many will include a carbon layer to capture the odors (usually MERV 8-16).
Bacteria: Now we’re getting into hospital-grade filtration. Some people need filters that can remove bacteria due to high sensitivity or because they have a chronic illness (usually MERV 13-17).
Viruses: HEPA filters can usually remove viruses and other tiny particulates that slip by the media in other filters (usually MERV 15-20).
MERV values vary depending on the filter media type and size, and they’re not uniform across all brands and filter applications. So one MERV 13 filter might filter bacteria while another doesn’t. It all just depends.
In simplest terms, the higher the number, the more stuff you filter out. But there's a caveat here: Many (if not most) systems with high-MERV filters decrease the air flow because of poor design. As a result, the fan has to work harder to heat and cool your home, thus reducing its efficiency. :(
Change Your Air Filter
Many factors can affect how quickly filters get dirty.
The American Lung Association recommends replacing MERV 10 filters or higher approximately every 3 months. This depends on usage and HVAC configuration. We recommend starting with this change frequency and increasing or decreasing frequency depending on how dirty the filters are at replacement.
Dirty filters themselves can become a source of contamination by fungal spores and allergens. Contaminated filters then transmit the allergens through the vent system to the rest of your home, making it more important that you change them regularly.
When no filter is present, or filters are not replaced as often as they should, dust can collect in vents. This creates a breeding ground for mold and fungal bacteria which are detrimental to you and your loved ones health.