A dust-free home is a happy home, and it’s especially important for people with allergies. If you or a family member is constantly sneezing, coughing, and experiencing watery eyes, consider investing in a better furnace filter. High-quality furnace filters for allergies can significantly improve your quality of life. While all furnace filters are designed to eliminate airborne particles, some are better than others.
Indoor Air Quality and Your Allergy Symptoms
The air quality inside your house is vital if you or a family member has allergies. Many common allergens that cause reactions can get trapped in your home’s air ducts and circulate through the air you breathe. Over time, these allergens build up on furnace filters and reduce their efficiency. As a result, they don’t trap as much airborne debris as they ought to, which means more allergy-causing particles in your indoor air.
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
Do Filters Help Reduce Allergies?
Furnace filters are not a cure-all for allergies, but they can help reduce them. They work by trapping airborne particles that can cause allergic reactions. For example, the smaller the filter, the better it is at trapping allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. It’s because smaller filters have smaller pores, trapping more particles.
How To Choose an Allergy Furnace Filter
Some people claim that they are allergic to air conditioning. Not all homeowners know that they can choose an anti-allergy furnace filter. If you or a loved one has allergies, select a furnace filter that can remove most allergens from the air.
Here are some tips:
1. Check the Rating
Rating is the filter’s ability to capture tiny particles, expressed as a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter will be at trapping allergens. In addition, there are other ratings to consider when looking for a furnace filter for your HVAC systems that can help with allergies. These include Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR Rating) and Filter Performance Rating (FPR Rating).
2. Choose the Right Size
HVAC filters come in different sizes and are labeled in three-part dimensions. The first is its length, the second is its width, and the third is its depth or thickness. The most common sizes of furnace filters are:
- 10 X 20 X 1″
- 14 X 20 X 1″
- 16 X 24 X 1″
- 18 X 30 X 1″
Note that manufacturers label units with estimated measurements. There may be a little difference in the filter size, so check the exact measurements before buying.
The right furnace air filter size for your unit ensures that it will fit snugly and won’t fall out. A too-tight or too-loose filter can cause problems. If it’s too loose, air will bypass the filter entirely. If it’s too tight, it will put unnecessary stress on your HVAC system.
Below are clues that your furnace air filter is the wrong size:
- There are rattling noises in your unit, which means it could be too small.
- If it’s too big, you have to force your filter into the furnace, which could damage the unit. The filter doesn’t lay flat, so there are gaps where air can bypass it.
- If your furnace’s air filter has bent corners when you remove it, it may be too big for your furnace.
- If there’s an increased dust buildup around your home, your filter may be too small.
It’s also worth noting that a thicker furnace filter may last longer. It’s because it can capture more particles before it needs to be replaced. The exception is if you have pets because animal hair and dander can quickly clog up a thick filter. Also, this may not be ideal if you are allergic to air conditioning, as these units can release allergens into the air.
3. Choose Pleated Filters
This is a good option for quality indoor air because it can capture more particles than a non-pleated filter. The pleats in the filter increase its surface area, so it can hold more dirt and debris.
However, a pleated air filter has downsides. One, it can put more stress on your HVAC system because of the increased resistance to airflow. Two, it can cost more than other types of filters. Still, a pleated furnace filter is a good option if you’re looking for an effective way to remove allergens from your home.
4. Opt for Disposable Filters
If you’re seeking an affordable and effective air filter for allergies, go for a disposable panel filter. These fiberglass filters or polyester can be thrown away when they’re full. They have a shorter lifespan than pleated filters, but they’re more affordable and don’t put as much stress on your HVAC system.
Washable filters last longer, but they often have low arrestance. This means they’re not as effective at trapping airborne pollutants, usually under 75. In addition, they can be difficult to clean and may dry completely after putting them back in your furnace. This can lead to mold spores and mildew growth, which can cause respiratory problems.
Overall, choosing a disposable furnace filter with 9-12 MERV may capture up to 95% of microscopic particles in your home while putting less stress on your furnace.
While this doesn’t directly affect people with allergies, the cost of your furnace filter is still an important consideration. The most affordable options are panel filters, which can be thrown away when they’re full. Pleated filters are more expensive but can last longer. Washable filters are the most expensive option but can be reused.
Additionally, remember that there are better options than a costly furnace filter. Similarly, a cheap filter doesn’t mean it’s not effective.
What’s the Number of the Best Air Filters For Allergies
- MERV rating of 9 to 12
As mentioned, the MERV rating is the industry-standard measure of a filter’s effectiveness at trapping particles. For people with allergies, the best air filter for allergies is rated at least 9 to 12. These filters can remove up to 90% of airborne particles, including dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. They can also capture as small as 1 micron of particles. You may opt for 13 if you want better indoor air quality.
However, note that a very high filter performance rating means more resistance from your HVAC system. This restricts airflow and forces your appliance to work too hard, making it vulnerable to premature wear and tear. In addition, you may not get the air velocity necessary to reach all parts of your home, leading to temperature inconsistencies.
- MPR Rating of 1900
This is an air filter rating system that 3M developed. It’s similar to MERV but only rates a filter’s ability to capture small particles. The scale goes from 100 to 2800, and the higher the number, the more effective the filter is at trapping particles. For allergies, you want to look for an air filter with an MPR rating of 1900, equivalent to 12 MERV.
- FPR Rating of 7 to 10
The FPR rating is a home air filter rating system developed by The Home Depot brand. It rates filters on a scale from 4 to 10, with ten being the most effective. Ten is the same as 16 MERV. When looking for a furnace filter to help with allergies, you want one with a high MERV or MPR rating. An air filter with an FPR rating between 7 to 10 is equivalent to 11-13 MERV.
To Sum It Up
If you’re looking for a furnace filter to help with allergies, you want one with a high MERV rating. As a general rule, the higher the number is, the more likely it is to trap particles. However, a MERV rating of more than 13 may not be a good idea since it can put too much strain on your furnace.
Another option is to use a HEPA filter, which can be placed in any room of your house. However, they’re more expensive and need to be replaced often. In the end, you will be the one to decide what type of furnace filter you will purchase for allergies.