Combating Pet Dander with Furnace FiltersI can’t even start to estimate the number of homeowners I’ve consulted who love their critters so much that they’re willing to keep their pet even if it increases their allergies. But, like I told my sister, the right furnace filter can go a long way to minimize your family’s sinus pain. The key is making sure that the dander your pet naturally give off is not being circulated by your HVAC system and your furnace throughout the rest of your home.
The key is making sure that the dander your pet naturally gives off is not being circulated by your HVAC system and your furnace throughout the rest of your home.
Choosing MERV-Rated Furnace Filters for Pet DanderNow, my nephew isn’t the only kid in Sacramento who has a dog for a best friend. In fact, I think it’s pretty safe to call our area a dog-loving region. That new dog park in downtown Sacramento on 19th Street right by the Safeway is always packed, even with cooler days setting in. I think that’s part of the reason I find myself so often explaining to homeowners why you should use MERV-rated furnace filters for pet dander in the HVAC system of your home.
If your air conditioner motor can work with a MERV 11 filter, it’s a great choice for homes with pets or if you have kids prone to allergies.Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, is a rating system designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. The 4 MERV ratings most applicable to your home’s residential AC or furnace are:
- MERV 6: This filter has the least amount of filtration, catching only between 20-69% of all large particle contaminants like lint, household dust, and pollen. This should only be an option if it is the largest filter recommended for your air conditioning unit.
- MERV 8: This is the standard size of furnace filter for residential homes. They can capture up to 85% of all large particles and 50% of smaller ones, like lint, household dust, pollen, and mold spores.
- MERV 11: This is a superior filter rating that captures over 90% of large particles and between 70-90% of the smaller ones, including all the particles that MERV 8 filters can capture, plus pet dander and some smoke. If your air conditioner motor can work with a MERV 11 filter, it’s a great choice for homes with pets or if you have kids prone to allergies.
- MERV 13: This is the highest filter rating available for home HVAC systems—and the best option for households with sick family members who need a sterile environment. These filters are usually used in schools and office buildings and are capable of filtering over 95% of large particles and over 80% of small ones—even some bacteria and viruses.
Furnace Filters vs. Pet Dander: Why the Right Size and Fit MattersNow that we’ve discussed MERV ratings, here are a few reasons, pet dander among them, that getting the right type of filter is so important for the air quality in your home:
- Prevent damage to your HVAC system: A buildup of dirt and debris can cause damage to your unit by clogging the fan, coils, and condensate drain lines. It can also attach to electrical wiring and other critical parts. Dirty wiring can stop the flow of electricity, causing electrical gear to overheat. This can age your unit prematurely, affect its overall efficiency, and even cause it to stop working altogether.
- Stop dangerous contaminants from circulating through your home: Air particles that find themselves in the return duct of your air conditioner will eventually be spread to every single room in your house—including contaminants considered toxic or hazardous by the California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP). Keep in mind that rooms requiring more sterile environments, like baby nurseries, will experience the same air quality issues as the rest of the house.
- Inhibit the spread of allergens: Pollen, pet dander, and mold are all allergens that migrate into your home from the outside. Once they find their way in, your air conditioner or furnace can quickly push them into each room through the duct system, kicking allergy responses into high gear.