What Do Air Filters Do for Your Home?

In its most basic function, an air filter removes impurities such as dust, pet dander, or even bacteria from the air that flows through the system. Not only does this improve the air quality inside your home, but it also protects your HVAC system from potential damage. Air filters keep debris and air particles out of sensitive components. Two places where dust and dirt can accumulate are the duct system and the air handler.

Debris will build up over time creating a variety of problems, in addition to polluting indoor air. The purpose of air filters is to help improve the air quality in the house. They trap particles that are invisible to the naked eye. If we could see what is floating in our houses, we would be surprised.

Outdoor air quality is affected by particles such as pollution, construction dust, ash, exhaust fumes, and outdoor allergens, such as pollen from trees and grasses. Gases build up from things like burning coal or diesel, car exhaust, and industrial waste. Some useful measures of outdoor air quality include the air quality index and pollen count. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) air filters are indoor air filters that can be assembled from box fans and square HVAC (or oven) filters.

They are sometimes used during wildfires when air quality is poor and other filtration options are not available. There have been questions about whether DIY air filters can be effective in reducing virus particles indoors. DIY air purifiers can provide some benefits for reducing concentrations of viruses and other indoor air pollutants, but research is limited and there are several important considerations to keep in mind. Experts have concluded that a combination of medium to high efficiency filters, combined with portable air purifiers in sleeping areas, seems to offer the best symptom relief for the cost.

When used correctly, air and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses, in a small building or space. While these mechanical filters trap small to large particles, studies have failed to show that effective filtering alone actually improves asthma or allergy symptoms. So what are air filters good for? What does an air filter do in your home once it's installed? The purpose of the main air cleaner is to clean the indoor air to make it healthier to breathe. Air filters with a MERV rating of 14 or higher capture more particulate matter, but also restrict airflow more and clog faster.

Evidence indicates that combining medium to high efficiency air filters with a portable air purifier used in the bedroom, along with a regular cleaning routine, are the best ways to manage asthma and allergy symptoms. If you choose to use a device that incorporates bipolar ionization technology, EPA recommends using a device that meets UL 2998 certification (Environmental Claims Validation Procedure (ECVP) for Zero Ozone Emissions from Air Filters). Air filters can be beneficial in reducing the risk of acute respiratory attacks by trapping irritants trying to pass into the ventilation system ducts, allowing you to breathe better. Air filters are an aftermarket product with a longevity that typically lasts 1 to 6 months for disposable filters.

For more information on how to improve indoor air quality through filtration and other important engineering controls, consult ASHRAE and the CDC guidelines. In summary, an air filter helps your heating and cooling system do its job efficiently while protecting it from damage caused by debris buildup over time. It also helps reduce airborne contaminants such as viruses so you can breathe better indoors. To maximize its effectiveness, upgrade your filter to the highest possible efficiency compatible with your system and verify filter fit to minimize filter bypass.

Janette Tiotuico
Janette Tiotuico

Hipster-friendly pop culture enthusiast. Infuriatingly humble twitter trailblazer. Friendly music junkie. Wannabe food ninja. Typical internet fanatic.

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