The health of building inhabitants can be dramatically impacted by indoor air quality. Air pollutants can trigger allergies, respiratory problems, and other health issues.
Opening windows and operating window fans increase ventilation, allowing outdoor air to replace stagnant indoor air. Local bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans that vent outdoors also help.
Getting the right size filter is critical for your HVAC system. If the filter is too small, it won’t fit and will leave gaps that allow debris like dust, dander, pollen, pet hair, and other indoor air contaminants into your HVAC system. Similarly, if the filter is too large, it will restrict airflow and cause problems with your heating or cooling system.
The best way to know the size of your existing filter is to read its actual dimensions. This is written on the filter frame and will be a few inches smaller than the nominal size printed on the filter label.
The next step is to determine the appropriate MERV rating for your home. Higher MERV ratings capture a larger range of particles and offer better filtration. However, higher MERV filters are thicker and require your HVAC unit to work harder to circulate air through the house.
Stainless steel is durable and reliable, so it’s a good HVAC air filter housing. It can be made into any shape or size, which makes it an incredibly versatile material. Stainless steel is also used to make food and beverage containers and industrial equipment like air compressors.
Filter housings work in return vent openings behind the vents throughout your home, catching debris and pollutants before they reach the blower and internal components of your heating and cooling system. This prevents clogs and prevents damage to the blower motor.
Dirty filters restrict air flow, forcing the blower to work harder to create conditioned air. They can also choke the system, causing it to wear out prematurely. A professional should inspect the home for proper air filter maintenance and change intervals.
The most critical aspect of choosing the right filter is ensuring it is the correct size. A big filter will limit airflow, reducing heating and cooling performance. It may also increase energy costs and create a whistling sound.
Other factors to consider include where you live, which pollutants are present in your local area, and the presence of pets and smokers. Heavy carpeting, adhesives, wood preservatives, and paint can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), negatively impacting indoor air quality.
Another consideration is the MERV rating, which measures how effectively a filter removes microscopic contaminants from the air. High MERV filters can capture bacteria, virus carriers, and combustion byproducts such as smoke and reduce allergy-causing dust mites. However, most HVAC systems are not designed to handle the restricted airflow associated with MERV filters above 17.
Installing the perfect filter will improve indoor air quality, saving homeowners energy costs. Dirty filters cause the system to overwork, which leads to higher electricity bills. It also creates poor indoor air quality, especially noticeable for people with allergies or respiratory issues.
Filters come in many sizes, so the right one for the home is essential. The size of the filter is indicated by a number, usually between one and 10. The lower the number, the smaller the filter. Smaller filters are often disposable and only capture large contaminants, while larger ones require a specialized HVAC system to compensate for the reduced airflow.
In ducted systems, the filter is installed in the return air side of the air handler unit (also called the furnace blower). The access panel for the filter should have a flexible gasket to prevent air leakage. It should also have a slot for a duct register.