Education Hub

Why Are Furnace Filters Important?

Woman on laptop with allergies air filtration and indoor air quality

We all talk a lot about the basic heating and cooling of our space within our homes- but let’s talk about going beyond that and why it is critical to provide clean indoor air. We all love the smell of fresh air outside. How do we get that same refreshing, healthy feeling inside?

Let’s face it, we spend most of our time inside sleeping, eating, watching TV and just living. It would be nice to feel good about the air we breathe – to keep us all breathing a little easier.

According to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is possible for the air inside your home to be up to 5 times more polluted than the air outside. The air becomes more stagnant during the winter when our windows are closed. You could be just recycling poor quality air through your home each hour of the day.

Air filtration is critical for two very big reasons.

First, air quality affects our health and well being. Stale air and little to no airflow can affect how you feel – you can get headaches, become lethargic and lack daily energy. Allergens in the air – like dust, mold, mildew, pet dander – can lead to sneezing, irritated nose and throat, congestion, and asthma flare-ups.

What you can’t see can actually hurt those of us, who are sensitive to the side effects of poor indoor air quality.

Inadequate air filtration and circulation keeps this bad air re-circulating in your home. The naked eye can see particles in the air as small as 25 microns thick. That’s about the size of a small grain of sand, but 90% of particles in the air you breathe are 0.3 microns or smaller.

That means no matter how hard you look, you won’t see what’s in the air you breathe. A nasty air cycle you want to avoid – we can help solve this for you.

Second, cleaner air prolongs the operation and efficiency of your HVAC system. When your furnace is not running efficiently from a clogged filter, you can unknowingly drive up both your natural gas and electricity costs. Indoor pollutants can also reduce the life expectancy of your equipment. Using cheap filters in your furnace – and not changing your filters regularly – leads to a dirty and grimy furnace inside. Furnace parts wear out faster which can be very expensive to replace.

Clean things run longer and better. Makes sense. So, save your money in the long run.

A dirty filter can negatively affect both your furnace and air conditioner

The most common reason a heating and air conditioning system breaks down is because of a dirty filter. Dirt is the primary enemy and can trigger a series of equipment failure issues.

Dirt and particles collect over time on the filter and this film restricts the airflow for normal heating cycles in the winter – the blower in your furnace has to work extra hard to overcome the reduced airflow and repeated shutdowns can cause premature failure. Blowers are expensive to replace so a clean filter is a must to avoid replacement costs.

Your air conditioner will also stop working properly and will eventually start to freeze up. When the unit thaws, the condensate drain may not be able to handle the amount of water, causing water damage to the furnace and surrounding area.

My furnace already has a basic filter that I change out – isn’t that OK?

Some basic furnaces that are just installed come with a basic 1-inch filter.

That cheap thin filter you change every so often only has one purpose – to protect your furnace’s motor. It’s there to keep the motor clean from dust and particles, as we said above.  But contrary to what most people think, this thin filter is not designed to remove pollution from the air in your home.

All filters come with a MERV rating – a standard, non-bias rating in order to compare filtration functionality.

MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is a rating that indicates how well an air filter can collect particles in your home’s air and still move the air efficiently through your HVAC system.

The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the contaminants a filter can trap—which also means it will clog faster. It is a rating of air filters based on a minimum particle capture size – a rating of 1 is least efficient with 16 being the most efficient.

A MERV rating between eight and 11 is adequate for most homes for basic air filtering.

But if you have allergy or asthma sufferers in your home, you might want to go with a MERV 13 or higher. A MERV 13 filter will effectively remove about 75% allergenic contaminants down to .3 microns, like pet dander, smog, bacteria, some viruses, and tobacco smoke. MERV 16 is the best – removing up to 95% of harmful particles and bacteria.


Is it time to upgrade your basic furnace filter?

If you want to improve the air quality in your home, the simple answer is yes!

For a healthier home air environment, A1 recommends our MERV 14 Mechanical Air Cleaner. It is inserted into your current ductwork and has an easy to change filter. Filters are a bit more expensive but they only need to be changed out about once a year. Cheaper 1” filters should be changed every 30-60 days. You can pick up new air filters at the A1 head office for extra convenience. Note also that A1 is offering a free home drop off of filters during the COVID-19 “stay at home” timeframe.

Next level up is our Healthy Climate Air Cleaner Filter System – it has a MERV rating of 16 (even better) and is a two-stage system. It also includes UV lights that remove VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) from the air so you can breathe in fresher, cleaner air.

A1 also provides a quality selection of HEPA certified air filtration systems – both duct mounted and floor mounted. HEPA is short for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. A HEPA Air Cleaner Systems can capture up to 99.9% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns (1/84,000 of an inch).

The HEPA Air Cleaner System connects to the return air duct and diverts 1/3 to 1/2 of this dirty air through a sealed 3- stage filtration system. A home can reach 30 or more whole-house air changes/day depending on the house size. This is the top-of-the-line air filtration system for your family if you have allergy or asthma sufferers in your home. It also helps protect and prolong the operating efficiency of the heating and cooling equipment.

A1 Air Conditioning & Heating is proud to offer several home comfort solutions for improving your indoor air quality. Contact us today to learn more!

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