Furnace filters were first made to protect the furnace. Over time, as awareness of air quality increased, filters were designed to also reduce exposure to particles and the effect particles can have on health.
Things to consider when selecting a Furnace Filter – The particles that you breathe in your home come from a variety of sources
- particles brought in from outside by air coming into your home through doors, windows, cracks
- particles brought into by people and pets
- dust generated by activity such as cooking, smoking, hobbies, etc.
- hair and skin flakes from people and pets
- dust on floors and surfaces disturbed by activity
Research has shown that particle concentration in the air tends to be higher during the daytime and lower at night time when there less is going on. People and pets create their own little dust cloud.
Different particle sizes have different consequences for people. Larger particles get trapped in the nose and throat and never make it to the lungs. The largest particles are even too large to be inhaled. Some very small particles are exhaled after being breathed in without getting trapped in the lungs. The particles that are dangerous are the ones that enter the lungs and get lodged there.
Particles and dust are visible on hard surfaces but these are not the particles that you would typically breathe in. The particles that you can breathe in, respirable particles, are the ones that might cause discomfort or illness. These respirable particles include smoke, spores, bacteria and viruses, all of which can have negative effects on health.
In general, research has shown that filters that cost the least, do not do much to make the air clean. Results also show that particles in duct air can be reduced with a good filter, but that this reduction only moderately reduces indoor exposure to respirable particles. Also, furnace fans typically do not run all the time, probably only when the heat or air conditioning is on so the furnace filter will not be working all the time. There is usually a switch by the furnace that allows you to run the fan continuously but this can add $100-200 per year to your electric bill.
Furnace filters have MERV ratings, which is a testing standard and a rating system. Compare the MERV rating on different filters. The higher the rating, the better the filtration. However, be aware that there can be a trade off – the filters with higher MERV ratings that reduce the amount and type of particles that get through, can also reduce the amount of air passing through and limit the performance of your home heating and/or air conditioning system.
In the end, it makes sense to do things that reduce the amount of dust and particles in your home and to not hope that a filter or filtration system can take care of the problem on its own without causing other side affects such as reduced air push from the furnace. So, in addition to using a good air filter, reduce dust and particles by removing footwear at the door or before entry, regular vacuuming with an efficient vacuum cleaner, reducing the amount of air blowing into the house, reducing pet activity in the house, etc.
If you have any questions about home air quality, call Ram Cleaning Services @ 403-291-1051 and speak to one of our Furnace and Duct Cleaning specialists
Complete Cleaning and Maintenance Care in Calgary and Area since 1967
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