Allergies are your body’s way of protecting itself from harmful substances. Your immune system produces antibodies in response to your unique allergy profile. The symptoms can affect your airways, skin, and digestive system. Some allergies are little more than irritations, but others can be life-threatening. Regardless of where you are on that scale, even the mildest symptoms can have a pronounced effect on your quality of life. There are solutions, though, and not all of them require medications. If you’re like most Americans, you spend 93% of your time indoors, so controlling your air quality can give you back your life. Air filters can have a powerful impact on your health by providing relief for your allergies. Let’s take a closer look.

HEPA Filters

Dust mites, pollen, and pet fur are common allergens that tend to collect in carpets and fabrics. High-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) feed air through a mesh that traps all of those allergens. They can even remove tobacco smoke from your environment. Bear in mind, however, that air filters can only purify airborne particles. They cannot remove allergens from your linen and upholstery, so you’ll need to support your filter with thorough, regular cleaning. Your vacuum cleaner can trap a reasonable amount of particulate matter, but replacing your carpets with tiles will be more effective. If you have asthma, make sure your purifier is approved by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. These units can trap even tiny particles of just 0.3 microns.

Whole-House Air Filtration Systems

It’s important to choose a filter that can handle your room’s square footage. Larger units can manage up to 700 square feet, but the smallest alternatives can barely manage a single room. Most air filtration systems rely on HEPA technology, but they tend to be small, one-room products. It’s more effective to choose a whole-home option that captures air from every room in the home. A high-quality filter can handle 400 pounds of air at any given time, often combining HEPA and MERV ratings to achieve optimal effects.

MERV 12 filters can handle pollen, mold spores, and even viruses at a rate of 2,000 square feet a minute. Your unit will need more than just a good airflow rate, though. It will also need to suit your HVAC system. Some units are installed into existing HVAC units and furnaces, so they need to be chosen accordingly.

Are HVAC Systems Enough?

HVAC systems capture larger allergens like dust and dander. That makes their curative powers insufficient for many allergies. Your unit can certainly regulate airflow and trap some particles, but it leaves much of your air unfiltered. High-quality air filters are a great way to address large quantities of small allergens, so they’re best for severe allergies. It’s possible to add HEPA technology to your existing HVAC unit. If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly whole-house purifier and already have ductwork unit, this is one of the cheapest ways to reduce your symptoms.

A poorly-maintained HVAC unit is more harmful than none at all. If your filters are covered in allergens, your ductwork will distribute them throughout the home. That will worsen your symptoms, so it’s crucial to perform regular maintenance. Your HVAC company should clean out your ductwork when they change your filters so that your unit only distributes purified air.

Understanding Filter Ratings

MERV ratings measure your filter’s ability to capture particles of a particular size. The lowest rating is 1-4, which can capture particles of 3 to 10 microns. A rating of 16 can manage particles of 0.3 to 1 micron at a rate of 75%. The following table goes into more detail on MERV ratings:

MERV Value Dust Spot Efficiency Average Arrestance (artificial contaminants) Particle Size Range (in micrometers) Applications Filter Type
1-4 <20% 60 – 80% >10 Residential, light/medium commercial, medium protection equipment Permanent self-charging, washable metal, foam, or synthetic/disposable fiberglass/synthetic panels
5-8 <20 – 60% 80 – 95% 3 – 10 Industrial/commercial workplaces, higher-end residential, paint booths Pleated, extended surface and media panel filters
9-12 40 – 85% >90 – 98% 1.0 – 3.0 Top residential, better industrial/commercial buildings, Non-supported/pocket filters,
rigid box/cartridge, V-Cell filters
13-16 70 – 98% 95 – 99% 0.3 – 1.0 Smoke removal, surgery rooms, and general healthcare buildings, top commercial Rigid cell/cartridge, rigid box/non-supported, pocket filter, V-Cell filters
17-20 99.97 – 99.99% 99.97 – 99.99% <0.3 Hospital surgery suites, clean rooms, hazardous/biological containment, nuclear power plants

HEPA filters are capable of filtering particles of 0.3 microns via a pleated mechanical mesh. The higher the rating, the more effective your filter. These ratings can help you to match your filter to your allergens:

  • Pollen grains are 30 microns, so an ordinary HVAC can filter them effectively.
  • Dust mite waste is usually 20 microns.
  • Cat allergens are between one and 20 microns.

Your air purifier also has a unique clean air delivery rate (CADR) that influences its efficacy. This rating measures the amount of purified air it can deliver into a room by combining micron size and air volume into a single number, so it’s the most holistic rating to use as a measure. The smaller your allergens are, the higher the CADR must be. You’ll need a 100 CADR for a small room of 155 square feet and a CADR of over 160 for a 250 square foot space.

Choose Sig Cox for Your Air Quality Needs

Sig Cox Heating & Air Conditioning is the most trusted HVAC company in the region. Our skilled service technicians can help you to find the perfect filtration strategy for your allergies.

If you’re ready to put your sneezing and wheezing to rest, arrange a consultation with us at 706-722-5304.