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What’s the Deal with Air Filters, Anyway? Tips from Southern California’s Trusted HVAC Pros

Get the Clean Air Your Home Deserves

air filter, clean air

We mention air filters a lot in this space, but frequently get questions from our customers and readers of this blog about these pesky things, still. What’s the best one to buy? How often do I really need to replace them? Where do I purchase one? Why do I have to? WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH AIR FILTERS, ANYWAY?

Forgive us for getting excited. The truth is that they are a big deal! Changing your air filters regularly is one of the best ways to ensure your indoor air is clean and fresh at all times. We recommend changing them at least every six months, but many people do so far more frequently. Depending on fire and Santa Ana wind conditions, the number of indoor pets you have and your sensitivity to allergies, you may want to change them as often as once every thirty days.

But what kind to buy? Here’s what to know.

Meet MERV.

MERV stands for the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, a term created by the folks at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. It’s the way we measure how effective an air filter is at blocking dust, debris bacteria or mold measuring from .3 to 10 microns from getting through the filtration material. Your home air filter should measure ideally between 8-11 MERV, which means it will capture most particles without blocking airflow (or forcing your HVAC equipment to work harder to do less). The higher the rating, the more the filtration, so if you experience significant allergies, live in a highly polluted area, or have a lot of pet dander in your home, you may want to consider the higher end of that scale.

Say Hi to HEPA.

Lately it seems that everything from vacuum cleaners to portable air purifiers are talking about HEPA. What should you know? HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air filter. HEPA-grade air filters are rated MERV 17 or higher, which means they trap up to 99.97 of all particles .3 to .1 in size, as well as ones smaller or larger. For obvious reasons, HEPA filters are frequently used in hospitals, labs and anywhere that requires extremely clean air.

However, they’re not always practical for use in your home. An open door or window to the outside can let in millions of particles that even a HEPA filter won’t be able to remove. Furthermore, viruses, bacteria endotoxins, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds, frequently found in paints, carpets or spray cleaners) can also pass through these kinds of filters without a problem. For that reason, if you’re especially concerned about air quality, consider a UV filtration device as well.

However, we cannot emphasize enough that simply changing your ordinary HVAC air filters in your home regularly will go a long way in keeping your air clean, healthy, and relatively free of the irritants and debris that lead to allergies and poor overall air quality. You’d be amazed how many otherwise spotless households have air filters that haven’t been changed in years. Eeeww! Don’t force your family to breathe air that’s passed through the years of dust, mold, dirt and who knows what that accumulate on your air filters over time.

Remember, these products are inexpensive, readily available online or in your local hardware store, and easily installed. While we’re happy to come out and change yours anytime, once you see how it’s done, you may even choose to replace them yourself when needed. If you care about air quality in your home (and who doesn’t?) change yours today!

Need your air filters changed but not sure how? Give Air-Tro a call. We’re the HVAC specialists Southern California trusts for all their heating and air conditioning needs. (626)357-3535.</