Vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum cleaner, dusting, and regularly changing bedding are all important steps to take care of allergens in your home. Asthma sufferers should also frequently change return air filters in their HVAC system to capture particulates; monitoring humidity levels in the home to manage mold is also beneficial.
Selecting the Right Air Filter
There are a few key components to look for in an air filter to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Peter Kusterer, of Air Comfort for Homes, which specializes in indoor air quality (IAQ), recommends better performing 1″ traditional filters designed with low pressure drop (LPD) for your system. Select a pleated filter with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 8, or better. Aprilaire and Honeywell are two brands that manufacture whole-home media air filters with a minimum MERV 11 rating that require less frequent replacement; in some cases, only once a year.
If you’re still experiencing discomfort after cleaning your home and changing your air filters, consider installing a whole-home media air cleaner that attaches to your HVAC system. Unlike a more traditional 1″ filter, a whole-home media air filter cleans the air across a greater surface area. You can also move up to an electronic media air cleaner for an even higher MERV rating and efficiency. These filters will seem more expensive when compared to the traditional 1″ filter. Consult with your trusted HVAC technician or an indoor air quality specialist to determine if there is a benefit for you to install a whole-home media air cleaner.
Changing the Air Filter
Traditional 1″ filters will capture larger particulates and should be changed every 30 days. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation of when to change the air filter. When air filters aren’t changed regularly, your HVAC system has to work harder since particulate matter has built up on the filter and may restrict airflow. Set a reminder on your smartphone or calendar so you can easily remember when it’s time to change the air filter. Another quick tip is to write the “change by” date on the filter itself. Also consider running your system with just the fan on during high pollen count periods or when you have guests over. Using the fan, only, requires only the blower motor to capture particulates and can save energy when compared to running heating or cooling; you also capture airborne particulate that may have otherwise settled and is no longer capable of being trapped by the filter.
In Part II of this series, I’ll explain how humidity levels can be monitored and managed to lessen asthma symptoms.