Sacramento has been growing quite a bit in recent years. I think it’s somewhat easy to spot a new resident of our area, especially in the spring; they’re usually the people most vocal about their allergies. It’s not that the rest of us aren’t suffering, it’s just that we’re used to going through this every year by now.
Sacramento has some of the highest pollen counts in the country. Our wonderfully tall trees and diverse collection of plant life are great to look at and enjoy, but not so great when they’re all blooming at the same time. And don’t even get me started about the dust. Of course, all of these allergens have a tendency to get into our homes—and our HVAC systems. That’s the bad news.
The good news, however, is that the best air filters for allergies and asthma sufferers are pretty darn effective against our region’s world-class allergens. You just have to know which HVAC filter is right for your home. So, for the sake of helping you breathe easy, even during our allergy-inducing Sacramento spring, I’m going to walk you through the best air filters to help you ditch the dust and pollen, and give you some tips for how to make sure you’re getting the most out of them.
Choosing the Best Air Filters for Allergies and Asthma
The filters used in your HVAC system and furnace are incredibly important. They help ensure that your whole home is receiving pure, clean, allergen-free air. Not all filters are created equal, though, and it can be tough to choose the right one for your home.
If you suffer from asthma and allergies and are wondering what kind of air or furnace filter to use, I recommend focusing on two features:
- #1 – Are they disposable? When choosing between disposable filters that need to be changed regularly or permanent filters that require frequent cleanings, I always recommend disposable. In my experience, it’s almost impossible to remove all of the dust, debris, and allergens out of permanent air filters. Plus, if you are an asthma or allergy sufferer, cleaning a permanent filter could be pretty dangerous for you. Not only would your symptoms likely flare up, you’d probably end up spreading a lot of the captured dust, debris, and allergens around your home. Trust me, folks, stick with disposable.
- #2 – Do they have a high MERV rating? An air filter’s MERV rating, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is very important when choosing which filter is best for your home. Most Sacramento houses have filters with a MERV rating of between 8 and 11, but for allergy sufferers, I’d recommend a MERV rating between 11 and 13. While MERV ratings go as high as 20, the higher the rating is, the more the filter will restrict airflow. This can cause your HVAC to have to work harder and expend more energy, increasing your monthly utility bill in the process. Of course, this will likely depend on your individual HVAC and furnace system, the size of your filter, and how often you run your furnace and air conditioner. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a seasoned HVAC pro out to your home to take a look at your system and help you choose the most suitable air filter for your space, your family, and your appliances.
Tips for Optimizing Your Air Filter to Keep Your Home Allergen-Free
While choosing the right air filter is a great first step to guard against allergies and asthma, I’d like to offer a few other tips that are important in order to keep your home dust and allergen-free. These three things are sure to bring you some relief:
- Have your air filter properly installed: Did you know that an improperly installed air filter can actually damage your HVAC while spreading allergens and dust throughout your home? If you don’t install your filter correctly, dust and debris enters your HVAC system and clogs it up, causing it to strain itself and circulate unfiltered air in your home. All too often, I go to people’s homes and see that they have installed their filters backward. If you want to do the installation yourself, pay close attention to the arrows on your filter, as they point in the direction that air is meant to flow. Also, make sure you read the filter installation instructions on your HVAC (usually close to where the filters go). If you’d like a guarantee that your filter is installed correctly so that it is increasing, not working against, your family’s health, call an HVAC pro to come out and install it for you.
- Change your air filter often: If you struggle with allergies or asthma, I recommend changing your air filter once every two months. I know this seems like a lot, but trust me, it makes a big difference. Filters can quickly get clogged with dust, allergens, and debris; if they aren’t changed out frequently, they can begin to circulate these substances in your home. And, since the particles from the filter can cause many asthma and allergy sufferers have an attack or a flare-up in symptoms, it’s a good idea to have a pro do it for you. In fact, you can schedule a monthly filter change with the friendly HVAC experts at Bell Brothers or your local heating and cooling company. That way, you don’t even have to think about it.
- Have your HVAC ductwork inspected: No air filter is going to do any good filtering allergens and dust out of your home if there is a leak in your supply or return ducts. If this is the case, unfiltered air can enter the ducts and contaminate even the conditioned air in your home. Plus, conditioned or heated air can escape through the cracks, resulting in less heating and cooling efficiency and a significant amount of energy loss. I’d recommend that when you have a pro come in to help you choose a filter, that you also get them to inspect your ducts and check for any leaks or cracks. That way, they can clean them and seal them up so that your home will be allergen-free and more energy-efficient.
As a long time resident of Sacramento, I can honestly say that air filters are Sacramento’s MVP. For all you new residents out there, trust me when I say that with the right filter, proper installation, frequent changing, and solid ductwork, your home can become an allergen-free oasis and you’ll be breathing better in no time. You’d be surprised how much more enjoyable Sacramento is when both you—and your home—are healthy.
At Bell Brothers, our trained HVAC professionals would be delighted to help you select, install, and regularly change your air filter. We can also help make your home more energy-efficient by cleaning and sealing up your leaky ductwork. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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Image courtesy astremska