Understanding How House Air Filters Work

Air filters are an essential part of any home's heating and cooling system. They are designed to trap particles such as pollen, dust, pet dander, dirt, allergens, bacteria, and viruses from the air before it enters the HVAC system. The filter medium (material) used in air filters is usually a mesh fabric that traps smaller and smaller particles depending on the tightness of the fabric. This tightness is measured by the Minimum Efficiency Report Value (MERV) ratings.

Air filters with higher ratings have a tighter woven mesh that can absorb or trap particles to an almost microscopic degree. When air enters the HVAC system, it is first heated or cooled and then pushed through the ducts that carry it to every room in the house. The HVAC filter cleans the air just before it enters through the blower and circulates through the ducts. As air passes through the filter, the material traps any contaminants found in the air.

To change the temperature in your home, the heating and air conditioning system sucks air from one room, places it on coils to heat or cool it, and then expels the warm air through ducts into the other rooms of your home. The air filter is placed at the point where air enters the system. It traps airborne particles that are sucked into the air and prevents them from blocking the blower and clogging the coils. Clogged coils cannot heat or cool the air passing over them and may damage the system.

Therefore, the air filter helps the heating and cooling system do its job, keeps it running efficiently and protects it to last longer. One type of filter that can be particularly difficult to find in local stores is a whole house air filter. These are very different from one-inch filters and should not be confused with air purifiers, which are an addition to your HVAC system rather than part of it. Air purifiers are designed to remove microscopic particles that are more irritating to lung tissue. Air filters need regular maintenance to ensure that they are working properly and keeping your home's air clean. You can save costs by ensuring that your air filters are doing their job without stopping air from entering.

Lower-efficiency air filters can filter out larger particles, such as dust and soot, but not smaller particles, such as bacteria and aromatics. To keep your home's air clean, you should open windows from time to time for ventilation and change your whole house air filters every 1-3 months. Whole house air filters are designed to be used within the HVAC system to purify air throughout your home or business.

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