Air Filters and Self-Quarantine
How Spending More Time at Home impacts your HVAC.
While spring continues to make up its mind about what kind of weather it wants to bring to New Jersey, Temp Control wants to remind you that because we’ve been in our homes stirring up dust, opening our windows, shutting them again, and just generally using our houses more, it’s crucial to check your HVAC filters. It’s also a great time to take stock of the kind of filters you use and make some tweaks to your lifestyle to get a better handle on your air indoor quality as pollen season ramps up.
A good place to start evaluating HVAC filters is the MERV rating. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. This is a standardized system that is used to rate a filter’s effectiveness at collecting contaminants as they pass through an HVAC system. Generally speaking, filters with a MERV rating of 16 or lower serve best for residential purposes. Higher MERV values are typically used in areas of extreme filtration like operating rooms or technological clean rooms.
It’s wise to remember that simply seeking the highest MERV rating in a filter may not be your best move. With the high MERV ratings come tighter weaves or smaller pores in the filter material. This can restrict air flow and make the HVAC unit work harder than the manufacturer recommends; thereby, impairing its performance and costing more in repairs or energy bills.
CHOOSING A FILTER
The basic filtration most of us are familiar with is called mechanical filtration. These are the typical store-bought filters that are disposable or reusable. They primarily capture large particulates such as dust, dander, pollen, and even cigarette smoke. They will not capture smaller particulates like viruses–even though the likelihood of viral pathogens entering an HVAC system is small but not impossible.
These filters come in four main types: fiberglass, pleated, HEPA, and washable. Within these types, manufacturers often create further distinctions based on specialized filtration for different types of contaminants. Making a choice on what kind of filter is best for you should be a discussion between you and one of our professional Temp Control HVAC technicians.
No matter the kind of filter you employ, because we are in our homes more, it is imperative you do visual inspections of your filters before the manufacturers’ recommended replacement date. The manufacturer’s replacement suggestions are based on average use. More frequent replacement or cleaning of reusable filters might be necessary because of our shelter-in-place activities or self-quarantining.
With our increased home usage, the air conditioner or furnace in a forced-air system is working harder than usual. Plus, with spring blooming all around us, pollen and other plant-based contaminants are sneaking into our homes, further adding to the HVAC’s filtration duties. Because of this, one thing many of us need to consider is more frequent house cleaning.
Dust particles that hang in the air are commonly sucked into the HVAC system and get trapped by a filter. However, heavier particles can settle on furniture and into carpets. These can get stirred up and contribute to health issues such as allergies or asthma for people sensitive to any kind of respiratory illness. A lifestyle tweak might be necessary to combat this. Many physicians recommend regular dusting, washing of bedding, vacuuming, and cleaning hard surfaces more frequently when pollen count is higher or drier weather brings dust into our homes. Also don’t forget to clean the vents and registers located on your walls or floors.
Likewise, because we are staying home more and opening doors and windows with the fluctuating weather, it’s likely that contaminants are being pulled into our homes more than usual. This is another reason to add a little extra cleaning duty to support our HVAC systems and further control our air indoor quality.
Temp Control’s experienced professionals are here to help in this time of shelter-in-place. Our staff can recommend mechanical filters, or other whole-house treatments that can improve indoor air quality and add comfort and peace of mind when we are all a little more concerned about our health and the health of our loved ones.