Your HVAC and Indoor Air Quality

By Erin Hynes | Oct. 22, 2021 2:02 pm PST

Your HVAC system can improve the air quality in your home.

The quality of the air inside your house plays a role in your respiratory health, and your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system plays a key role in your home’s indoor air quality. Your HVAC system doesn’t just heat and cool your home, it filters indoor air that circulates through the heat exchanger.

Using the right AC air filter and changing it regularly are key steps in keeping indoor air clean. If you’re sensitive to allergens or other air pollutants, you can select a high performance air filter to trap pollen, smoke and other irritants. You can go even further by installing an air purifier in your HVAC system.

Additionally, keeping your HVAC in top shape with regular maintenance will keep clean air efficiently circulating through your home and the HVAC air filter.

If you’re coughing, sneezing or just can’t take a deep breath inside your home without feeling uncomfortable, follow this advice to improve indoor air quality.

Use a High-Performance Air Filter

If you’ve been using the cheapest air filter you can find—the one with nylon strands you can practically see right through—ditch that air filter and start using a filter that will trap pollen, dust mites and other irritants.

HVAC filters have a standard rating system of Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The MERV rating System helps you choose an air filter that will trap allergens and other irritants.

Understanding MERV Ratings

The higher the MERV rating, the tinier particles the filter can trap. Filters for home use have MERV ratings up to 16; ratings higher that 16 are for public buildings with HVACs powerful enough to move air through the small pores in the filter.

Not all residential HVACs are powerful enough to use filters rated 13 through 16, so check your furnace’s MERV rating.

Here’s a quick look at what HVAC filters with different MERV ratings can remove from the air:

  • MERV 5–8 filters trap pollen, dust mites, sanding dust, spray paint dust, pet dander and hair spray.

  • MERV 9–12 filters capture the pollutants listed above, as well as lead dust, Legionella bacteria, vehicle emission particles and droplets from nebulizers.

  • MERV 13–16 filters remove the pollutants listed above, as well as bacteria, most smoke,sneeze droplet nuclei and pesticide dust.

How to Choose the Right HVAC Filter

Filters with higher MERV ratings typically cost more than lower rated filters. If filter cost influences your buying decision, choose the AC air filter with the MERV rating that best fits your indoor air quality needs and your budget.

If you choose a MERV rating of 12 or higher and your home feels less comfortable because of diminished air flow through the filter, use a filter with a lower MERV rating. Find the filter that strikes an even balance between air flow and air filtration.

Change the Air Filter Regularly

Once you find the right filter to fit your needs, keep it fresh. The filter package and your HVAC system’s owner’s manual has guidelines for how often you need to replace the air filter. But every home is different. If you have pets, live near a busy road or farms, or live in a humid climate, it’s a good idea to change it more often.

Also, during months when the HVAC system runs longer, you may need to replace the filter every 2 weeks. For example, in southern climates where temperatures climb over 100 degrees for weeks at a time, the air conditioner will run nearly constantly from midday to early evening. The air filter will collect as much dust and allergens in 2 weeks as it normally collects in a full month. The same concept applies when your furnace runs nearly constantly during a cold spell in winter. Keep your air filter fresh by changing the filter based on system run time.

To make sure you change your filter regularly, set a reminder on your phone or other smart device. Some smart thermostats will remind you as well.

Add an Air Purifier to Your HVAC System

Sears Home Services can attach an air purifier to your HVAC system to remove even more pollutants and germs from indoor air than an air filter can. Whole-house air purifiers help trap airborne particles so they can’t keep circulating throughout your home. Your HVAC’s components stay cleaner and your breathe cleaner air.

Sears Home Services Offers Spring and Fall HVAC Preventive Maintenance

To make sure your HVAC system is circulating air efficiently to maintain optimum indoor air quality, have a Sears technician tune up your HVAC system twice a year — the AC in spring and the heating in autumn. While checking the entire HVAC system, the tech makes sure your indoor blower fan circulates air through your home properly. The technician also lubricates the indoor blower fan if needed, so it works efficiently to blow air through the filter.

If your HVAC system stops isn’t keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer, depend on Sears Home Services for professional HVAC repair. Same-day and next-day service is available in many areas.

When your HVAC system finally needs to be replaced, schedule a Sears HVAC expert to help you select a new system that will keep your home comfortable and your indoor air clean.

Don’t let poor indoor air put your health at risk. Let Sears Home Services help you keep your HVAC system in top shape so you breathe clean, healthy air inside your home.

Get a free in-home consultation

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