For people with allergies, there are certain times when going outside seems as smart as walking into a warzone unarmed. You might also want to consider that your home isn't the safest place, either. There is dust, pollen from outside, and, if you have pets, pet dander and hair. That's just to name a few! Don't get paranoid, however: a central air cleaning system might be just the ticket for you.
How Do They Work?
There are portable air filters that can take care of one room at a time, but a central air filtration system will work in conjunction with your AC and furnace to take care of your entire home.
Your furnace already has a filter in it, one that should be cleaned and/or replaced on a pretty regular basis. The most common types of furnace filters are:
- Spun fiberglass. This is far and away the cheapest option and, unsurprisingly, the least effective. These need to be replaced on a regular basis (monthly), cost about one dollar a piece, and filter approximately 10 percent of the particles out of the air.
- Reusable/washable filters. These are more effective than the fiberglass option, but their functioning requires that they are properly and thoroughly cleaned monthly.
- Pleated paper filters. These are more expensive, but more effective (30-40 percent).
- Electrostatic filters. These are some of the most effective and most expensive disposable filters you can put in your furnace. They work up to 30 times better than lesser filters and cost around 25 dollars. Like the rest of them, these should be replaced regularly.
TIP: Always turn your furnace and any electricity going to the furnace off before replacing the filter.
Using HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) and HEPA-like filters provides perhaps the most advanced filtration system you can have in your home. There may be some changes to your ductwork involved to use this and even some electrostatic filters, but the results are tremendous. This kind of work should be taken care of by a professional, as the central air ducts in your home are part of a complex and interconnected system.
True HEPA filters follow strict guidelines of effectiveness for removing the tiniest particles in the air. They have serial numbers if they pass the necessary tests. HEPA-like filters follow a similar design but do not have the same effectiveness or the serial number to guarantee that they meet the same standards.
Whatever filtration option you choose, it's important to clean or replace your filters on a regular basis. Otherwise, they lose their effectiveness and can negatively affect the proper functioning of the air and heat systems in your home. With a properly functioning air filter in your home, you'll breathe easier than you ever imagined!