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Tree Pollen Signals the Onset of Spring

The beginning of spring can be a time of awakening and a much welcomed reprieve from the cold and gloomy winter weather. However, for many of us, springtime also means the beginning of allergy season. For those that suffer from pollen allergies, the effects can start to appear as early as January in the southern US states while those in the north won’t feel it until until May or June. Trees are the earliest producers of pollen and trigger the first onset allergy symptoms in those that have a sensitivity to pollen. In fact, the pollen count is currently so elevated in some areas of the United States that people without a known allergy to tree pollen can feel some allergy symptoms.

Interesting Tree Pollen Facts

  • The earliest seasonal allergen of the year
  • The oak is the most common allergenic tree
  • Tree pollen is similar to proteins found in some varieties of nuts, fruits, and vegetables. This means there is a higher chance for someone that has tree allergies to also have some food allergies
  • The World Health Organization and the International Union of Immunological Societies (WHO/IUIS) allergen nomenclature subcommittee have established 53 different allergens associated with trees.
  • The onset, length, and severity of pollen season is affected by changes in weather

When To Expect Tree Pollen Season In Your Area

As seen on the map below, tree pollen season rolls out as early as January in the southern states and lasts into June. This season begins starting a little later as you move north up the map. The best region for those with tree pollen allergies is in the northern states as tree pollen is usually only active for about 4 months out of the year. In the southern states, it gets warmer earlier in the year and tree pollen can be in full force for six whole months.

tree pollen season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Trees Are The Biggest Culprits?

Pollen allergens are viewed as a significant health factor responsible for allergic rhinitis and asthma, so there have been and continue to be numerous in-depth studies regarding this subject. Allergenic trees can basically be divided into four orders that have been determined to be the most potent sources: Fagales, Lamiales, Proteales, and Pinales. There is a pattern of geographical distribution for each order and allergenic trees are found in almost every part of the world. Below is an outline of the basic details of each order of allergenic tree and the typical location of each within the United States.

tree pollen is the most common allergen that can begin as early as January
Geographic distribution of allergenic Fagales, Lamiales, Proteales, and Pinales species. The distribution data were extracted from maps provided on www.eol.org. Photographs of florescences of members of the Fagales (birch Betula verrucosa), Proteales (plane tree Platanus acerifolia), Lamiales (lilac Syringa vulgaris and olive Olea europaea), and Pinales (mountain cedar Juniperus ashei and Japanese cedar Cryptomeria japonica) were obtained from Fotolia.
  • Fagales
    • come in tree or shrub form
    • may have cylindrical or spiked flowers
    • grow in more temperate climates
    • found mainly in eastern and extreme western US
    • types include Birch, Alder, Hornbeam, Hazelnut, Beech, Chestnut, and Oak
  • Proteales
    • drops leaves annually and grow laterally
    • produce ball shaped flowers
    • located mainly in Arizona, New Mexico, and California
    • types include American Sycamore, California Sycamore, Arizona Sycamore, Western Sycamore, American Plane, and Buttonwood
  • Lamiales
    • flowering shrubs or trees
    • scattered widely across the United States
    • includes over 23,000 species, four of which have been noted to contain allergenic proteins
    • types include European Ash, Common Privet, Olive, and Lilac
  • Pinales
    • produce cones
    • the most widespread group throughout a majority of the US
    • there are seven families within this order, but only one genera (Cupressaceae) has been marked as allergenic
    • types include False Cypress, Japanese Cedar, Arizona Cypress, Mediterranean Cypress, Japanese Cypress, and Junipers

Dealing With the Symptoms

You probably have a tree pollen allergy if you find yourself sneezing and sniffling at the start of spring, or even earlier if you in the southern US states. Many times, the symptoms of a pollen allergy are referred to as hay fever. These symptoms include:

  • sneezing, runny nose
  • congestion, stuffy nose
  • red, itchy, watery eyes
  • swollen or puffy eyes

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends the following treatments:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene receptors
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal spray
  • Immunotherapy

US Home Filter Offers AC Filters to Help Reduce Allergens

No matter which type of HVAC system your home has, every unit needs a quality air filter that fits properly in order to maximize your indoor air quality and keep your unit running efficiently. US Home Filter can provide you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter in your furnace is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter offers filters to fit all heating and air conditioning units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filtersgrille filters, and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

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All About Mold

What is Mold?  

mold

Classified as fungi, mold is a living organism that reproduces by developing spores that are separated and dispersed from a parent source or organism.  In ideal environments, the spores or “seeds” attach to a source of nourishment and establish a colony. Mold spores are present pretty much everywhere, year-round and there are many indoor and outdoor sources for mold to flourish. Ranging in size from 3-30 microns, there are over 100,000 types of mold!

Mold Facts

  • Bleach is usually recommended to kill mold; however, it is not effective for removal as dead or dormant mold spores are just as toxic as living spores. The dead/dormant spores must be properly removed.
  • A study in Science Daily indicated that Vitamin D supplements are helpful in the treatment and prevention of mold allergies.
  • In many cases, mold is harmful, but also has many beneficial properties. It assists organic material decomposition, aids in medication production, produces enzymes that help make certain foods (like cheese), assists in the production of alcohol, flavorings, and even plastic!
  • Molds are classified as either an A, B, or C hazard level. Aspergillus fumigatus, a hazard A classification, is commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens. It is highly unsafe and needs to be immediately remediated if present. A class C mold, Wallemia sebi, can grow in your carpeting or mattresses. Although not considered a health concern, it is capable of damaging the surfaces it lives on and should be removed.

Requirements for Growth

Mold requires only 3 basic conditions to grow:

  • Food – any organic material or surface where organic material is present. These include upholstery, carpet, leather, wool, cotton,  paper, wood, leaves, dirt, food, grease, insulation, drywall, dust, wallpaper
  • Moisture – Areas with standing water, humidifiers, garages/outdoor sheds, leaky roof or pipes, damp basements/closets, condensation on window sills,  vaporizers, drains
  • Temperature – Growth can happen in temperatures between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but the ideal temperature for rapid growth ranges between 79-90 degrees. When temperatures fall below freezing, mold goes dormant and activates once the temperature reaches the ideal range.

Accelerating Growth

Mold will grow when the minimum requirements above are met, but there are certain conditions that increase the rate at which mold can multiply.

  • Humidity levels of 50% or greater – higher indoor humidity can allow moisture to develop on surfaces
  • Poor ventilation in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or kitchens. Proper air circulation can significantly reduce moisture in the air
  • Areas where piles have collected – leaves, damp clothing, food waste – ideal for holding moisture

Inhibiting Growth

  • Reduce humidity – indoor humidity should be below 50%, air should circulate via fans or proper ventilation, windows should be closed if raining outside
  • Prevent moisture – when the idea conditions and moisture are present, growth begins in 24-48 hours. For instance, if you leave a load of laundry in the washing machine for a day or two, that musty odor is mold!
  • High-efficiency pleated air filters remove airborne mold spores that settle on surfaces and potentially begin to multiply. Mold can enter your indoor air through doors, windows, and can be transported on your skin, clothing, shoes, and pets. Proper circulation and a quality furnace filter or air conditioning filter are necessary to reduce the amount of spores floating around in your air.
  • Indoor room air cleaners are very useful if you have a mold sensitivity. They provide additional relief and protection from microorganisms that drift through your air.

Indoor and Outdoor Mold

Mold is typically found indoors. The effects range from unnoticeable to debilitating for people as well as animals. Indoor mold is usually identified by a musty odor and can be visible in different colors depending on what type is present. As mentioned above, moisture is a requirement for mold to multiply. Common types of indoor mold are Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Penicillium.

The outdoor airborne variety of mold particulates are fungi related to mushrooms but they have no roots, leaves, or stems. Outdoor mold spores can be present almost anywhere and are carried in the same way as pollen by air currents, insects, animals, people, leaves, grasses, weeds, and flowers. Outdoor mold growth begins in the Spring with the highest concentrations occurring in different months by region. Common types of outdoor molds are Bipolaris, Ascospores, and Torula. Wet branches, leaves, compost piles, grass clippings, and structures that are frequently shaded and damp are all outdoor sources.

US Home Filter Carries AC Filters to Fit All HVAC Units

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly to keep your indoor air quality clean and your heat running at its maximum efficiency this Fall and Winter. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filtersgrille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

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Reduce Dust – Breathe Cleaner Air

Controlling dust within the home is a constant battle for nearly everyone. Numerous sources cause dust and it continually collects on almost any surface in the house. Even with diligent cleaning, it seems to reappear as soon as you turn around. A variety of entry points and methods bring dust into your home’s environment. These places are where you need to tackle the dust in order to minimize it. Although you can noticeably reduce the amount of grime, dirt, soil and filth that originates from these sources, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate dust.

Outdoor sources: dirt, wind, sand, gravel, streets, sidewalks, garages/driveways, construction, industrial areas

Indoor sources: clothing, dryers, skin flakes/dander, ventilation, carpeting, furniture, linens/drapery, electronics, pets, attics, basements, closets, storage areas, remodeling projects

What is Dust?

Dust is matter that consists assorted ingredients in the form of very fine particles. It is classified as a solid particle, formed by the reduction of a larger particle: indoor and outdoor debris, soot and ashes, food crumbs, dander and skin flakes, mold and mold spores, dust mites and their debris, insect particles, household fibers, lint, hair and fur, and pollen.

Larger particles over 10 microns will settle onto surfaces very rapidly, often within just a few seconds. Because of this, large dust particles aren’t filtered by your HVAC air filter as it never gets pulled into the duct work via the return air vents.  Other particles are so fine that they function like a gas and have no rate of fall whatsoever. These particles, usually less than 1/10th of a micron, remain suspended in the air and are only affected by nearby currents or movement. Small particles between 1.0 – 10.0 microns will take several minutes to make their way to the nearest table, shelf, or floor. Particles this size will make up the majority of those that are able to be collected by your furnace filter or AC filter.

All About Dust

  • On average, households accumulate about 40 pounds of dust each year
  • Dust allergies are triggered by dust mites 
  • Persistent cold and hay fever symptoms are often due to a dust allergy
  • Household dust is the main contributor to indoor allergies
  • The particle size of atmospheric dust varies greatly between .001 – 40 microns
  • July and August are the months for dust allergies as the dust mite population increases, but they can also present problems during the cooler months as more time is spent indoors.

Symptoms of a Dust Allergy

  • ongoing cold symptoms
  • itchy, red, watery eyes
  • runny nose, frequent sneezing
  • cough, headache, fatigue
  • symptoms that worsen when sweeping, dusting, changing bedding/linens, or vacuuming

Dust and other airborne particulate matter can cause these symptoms in those that have a sensitivity or allergy to the type of particle being inhaled. Some allergens, such as soot, ash, lint and pollen, are proven to cause reactive symptoms even when there is no known allergy to that substance. Contaminants and allergens can trigger these reactions in non-allergic individuals simply because they are classified as irritants. This irritation or onset of symptoms will arise when the particles are inhaled. Our respiratory tract allows entry of these particles to different levels based on the size of the particle. The levels can be divided into three areas:

  • Inhalable – particles that are less than 100 microns and can be breathed in through the nose and mouth 
  • Thoracic – particles that are less than 10 microns and can pass the larynx, trachea, and enter into the bronchial region
  • Respirable – particles that are less than 4 microns reach the gas exchange region in the lower airways

dust

How to Control Dust

  • Use a vacuum with HEPA filtration
  • Frequently clean all of your hard surfaces. Remember air vents, fan blades, books, shelves, door and window frames, vases, artwork, pictures, wall hangings, collectibles, electronics
  • Clean and seal ventilation and ducts
  • Use an air filter with a higher MERV rating to capture the finest dust particles. A MERV 13 pleated air filter is recommended for those with the most severe allergies and excessive dust issues
  • Allowing your system fan to run more frequently to recirculate the air so your air filter can remove the most dust and prevent more from gathering on surfaces
  • Consider reducing the number of cloth items such as drapes, pillows, upholstered furniture, and carpeted surfaces or include them in the list of items that should be cleaned or vacuumed regularly
  • Think about using simple, smoother décor that is less ornate and detailed which will not be as prone to harbor dust and will be easier to keep clean
  • Add entry rugs or mats to all doorways leading in and out of the home to better collect and contain incoming debris from shoes and pets
  • Keep walkways, decks, patios, and garage areas swept to lessen the amount of dirt that can be tracked into the home

Minimizing Dust Improves Your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Nobody wants to breathe dirty air. There’s no doubt that improving the quality of air in your home is highly beneficial. The air you breathe can have a significant impact on allergy symptoms, asthma triggers, and your overall level of comfort. You air transports allergens and contaminants, allowing them to be inhaled or to settle on surfaces where they can spread to other areas. Using high-efficiency pleated air filters is a great added level of defense in helping to clean your air from allergens and dust. Using a minimum of a MERV 8 rating will help to collect large amounts of dirt and debris, not only protecting your HVAC system, but going above and beyond by capturing common allergens such as pet dander, dust mite debris, pollen, and mold spores. Upgrading to a higher level such as MERV 11 or MERV 13 is recommended for those who desire a greater percentage of dust collection and trapping the smallest allergens.

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly in order to keep your indoor air quality clean and your unit running at its maximum efficiency. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filtersgrille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

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Humidifier Season is Here

Humidifier PadDid you even know there was a humidifier season? It occurs during the driest months of the year, which is October through March (for most of us). Humidifiers and humidifier pads, also known as humidifier filters, can be very beneficial during the cold, dry, fall and winter months. While our heaters are working hard to keep us warm, air filters and furnace filters clean contaminants from indoor air. Adding a humidifier unit to these elements will make your environment even more enjoyable when cold weather settles in.

Do You Need a Humidifier?

As the weather transitions from fall to winter, the air becomes increasingly cold and harsh. Heaters are being run constantly to keep us warm, but they are also depleting the moisture from the indoor air. This can cause many individuals’ discomfort as excessively dry air can result in a number of issues. The signs that your indoor air is too dry are:

  • Dry, irritated skin, eyes, nose, and/or throat
  • Inflammation of respiratory tract increasing risk of cold, flu, and infection
  • Increased static electricity – flyaway hair, clingy clothes, getting shocked
  • Brittle, warped, cracked wood surfaces, gaps or creaking in floors, loosened furniture joints or window frames

Benefits of Humidified Air

Luckily, these dry-air side effects are not ones you have to put up with. Increasing the level of humidity in your home can provide a significant amount of relief. What can you expect when moisture is added to your air?

  • Soft, supple skin
  • Relief from nasal passage and throat dryness
  • Less risk of sickness and infection
  • Improved healing times
  • Reduction in static electricity
  • Wood surfaces and flooring protection

Humidifier Types

There are two main categories of humidifiers: whole-house and stand-alone. Both perform the same function of adding moister to the air to increase humidity levels. 

Whole house: These humidifiers are installed in line with your heating system. They disperse moisture into the air in your home through the air vents during heating cycles.  

Stand-alone: As their name implies, these humidifiers are separate from the HVAC system. They come in various sizes, a tabletop unit for use in certain rooms, and larger console units that humidify larger areas in your home.  

No matter the type of humidifier, they all require a humidifier pad. The humidifier pad (or humidifier filter) is responsible for helping the HVAC unit distribute moisture evenly into your home’s air. They can also be called wick filters or evaporator pads. Humidifier pads should be changed every 2-3 months, or at minimum once per season.

The Ideal Humidity Level

During the winter season, humidity levels in the home should be between 30-40%, varying based on the outdoor temperature. Humidity levels that are too high will result in condensation on your windows and facilitate the growth of moisture. This also provides the ideal living environment that dust mites thrive in. On the flip side, humidity levels that are too far below the recommended range will cause dry air effects such as itchy skin and irritated airways. Humidity levels are easily monitored with a hygrometer, found at home improvement stores and are relatively inexpensive.

Don’t Suffer This Winter – Try a Humidifier!

Humidity is simply the level of moisture in the air. Utilizing a humidifier increases the level of indoor humidity, decreasing the level of dryness in the air. As noted above, there are many immediate improvements that come from the use of a humidifier. A stand-alone unit is less expensive and easier to set up than a whole house humidifier. If you’re unsure about committing to a whole house unit, a stand-alone unit is the way to start enjoying the results immediately!

US Home Filter Carries AC Filters to Fit All Units

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly to keep your indoor air quality clean and your heat running at its maximum efficiency. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filtersgrille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

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Analyzing the Air We Breathe

analyzing the air we breatheRecently, many people began thinking about the air we breathe, especially indoors, and the quality of that air. On top of that, it’s also important to understand the process of breathing and what the air we breathe is made up of. This seemingly insignificant subject actually has a great deal of interesting data, including the important role that air filters play in the air quality of our indoor spaces. Spending a lot of time in the unhealthy indoor environment can result in symptoms like a tight chest, wheezing, sore throat, eye, and nose irritation and in some sever cases, dizziness, and nausea. Pleated air filters used in HVAC systems is a highly beneficial way to scrub the pollutants and allergens that cause those symptoms from indoor air. Here’s what you need to know about how we breathe, the makeup of that air and the benefits of air filters.

Did You Know?

  • An average adult inhales and exhales approximately 400 cubic feet of air everyday
  • We average 17,000 – 23,000 breaths per day
  • Oxygen makes up about 20% of our air and our body only requires 5% of that
  • If Earth were compared to an apple, the layer of atmosphere containing the air we breathe would be the skin of the apple

The Anatomy of the Air We Breathe

Air is a combination of multiple gases: 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% argon, carbon dioxide, and trace amount of other gases. There are particles and gases within the air that come from many sources, both nature and man-made. Much of what we breathe is filtered and exhaled, however, there is a host of contaminants that can directly impact our health and our surroundings. Whether the source is indoor or outdoor, naturally occurring or result from a man-made process, all particles are fall into two categories: aerosol or gas. Many types of particles can be captured with the air filters used in HVAC systems.

Aerosols – a suspension of a solid or liquid particle in the air which can be a solid, liquid, or compound:

  • Dust – a solid aerosol resulting from the reduction of a larger material or solid particle. Dust can be created by drilling into a surface (e.g. wood or concrete) or from natural occurrences (e.g. a volcano or sandstorm)
  • Mold – a bioaerosol derived from indoor and outdoor sources such as soil, plants, and moist surfaces such as walls, insulation, clothing, or carpet.
  • Bacteria and viruses- also bioaerosols with millions of varieties that are transported by air currents 
  • Fumes – created from vapor condensation from processes like combustion or welding
  • Fog – a liquid created during water vapor condensation
  • Mist – a suspension of liquid droplets that can include oils, paint, acids, and chemicals
  • Smoke – created from the burning or combustion of organic matter such as wood, coal, or tobacco
  • Smog – air pollution caused by industrial or chemical processes

Gases – a material that can expand indefinitely and fully occupy the space it is in. Gases exist in the form of molecules and include vapors and the gases that make up the composition of air. Gases can be odorous, toxic, and corrosive in nature. The presence of most gases will be recognized, but some (like carbon monoxide) are not detectable by the sense of smell. Gases may originate from chemical, manufacturing, and biological processes.

The Micron

Particles are measured in micrometers (also referred to as a micron), and have the abbreviation “μm”.  A micron is a unit of measurement that is the millionth part of a meter. One inch is equal to 25,400 microns. To put that into perspective, the average human hair is approximately 50 microns and the human eye is only able to see particles that are at least 5 microns in size. Particles measuring less than 1μm make up over 98% of the particles found in the outdoor atmosphere while only 0.005% consist of those measuring 20 μm.

The Role of Air Filters

Air filtration provides a way to attain a higher level of indoor air quality. Originally air filters were intended to simply shield the components HVAC systems and protect them from harmful dust build-up and extending its life. The manufacturing process of air filters has evolved over the decades and filtration media has become more refined and specialized. This allowed us to go beyond system protection into cleaning contaminants, allergens, and other bothersome particles from the air with the use of high-efficiency pleated air filters. The result was a significant improvement in indoor comfort and cleaner air in our homes and businesses.

For the best indoor air quality select the level of filtration based on the types of particles that you aim to capture with your air conditioning  and furnace filters. Choose a MERV rating that targets specific types of particles like pollen, mold spores and pet dander. The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particle that can be captured. A general guideline for MERV ratings is:

  • MERV 8 – for mild allergies and average dust particles
  • MERV 11 – for moderate allergies and smaller dust particles
  • MERV 13 – for severe allergies and the finest dust particles

US Home Filter Carries AC Filters to Fit All HVAC Units

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly to keep your indoor air quality clean and your heat running at its maximum efficiency. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filtersgrille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

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Benefits Of Home Air Filters

How Air Filters Work and their benefitsThe list of benefits that come from the use of home air filters can be outlined easily; however, the list contains three very valuable benefits. You may not think about it often but having a full understanding of the true advantages of these relatively simply items will make you realize their importance. Air filters come in a vast number of sizes and several MERV ratings. No matter the size difference or the types available, all air filters are designed to fill these main purposes. The filter size you need is determined by the HVAC unit installed in your home, but there is flexibility in selecting the MERV rating that is best for you regarding desired level of dust control and reduction in allergens. So, what are these three top benefits of home air filters?

Top 3 Home Air Filter Benefits

#1 HVAC System Protection

The lack of maintenance is the most common reason for HVAC system malfunction or failure. Dust is often the culprit as it can build up on the integral parts of the unit. Once the dust has accumulated to a high enough level, there will inevitably be problems. These problems; however, can almost always be prevented by regular maintenance. One of the simplest ways to maintain your system and preserve its life is to use an air filter that fits properly and change your air filter regularly. By doing so, a proper rate of airflow will be circulated around your home so it can be heated or cooled to your desired temperature. This also provides your HVAC system with a protective barrier against dirt and debris; the original and primary reason for home air filter use. Air filters, although inexpensive in comparison to the cost of your HVAC unit, carry a high level of responsibility in keeping your system running efficiently and smoothly. Your air filter traps dust and dirt particles before they can reach and accumulate on the internal and moving components of the unit. The following parts can be contaminated with dust build-up when a poorly-fitting, low quality, or dirty filter is used:

  • fan blade
  • motor
  • coil
  • duct work and vents

#2 Reduction of Dust in Your Home

Your air filter works hard to minimize the dust levels in the indoor air you breathe by preventing dust and debris from collecting on the mechanical parts of your heating and air conditioning system. High-efficiency pleated filters provide a large surface area and a considerable amount of dust-holding capacity. Pleated filters trap and hold several grams of dust, preventing it from blowing through your duct work back into the air you breath and inevitably settling on the surfaces in your home. Battling dust that continues to reappear on bookshelves, tables, window treatments, and decor is a constant point of frustration. Although virtually impossible to eliminate, dust can be greatly reduced by your home’s air filter, assisting you in the fight against dust in your home. US Home Filter recommends a MERV 8 rating at the minimum on your home air filter to control average levels of dust. If you need greater protection from smaller dust particles (fine, suspended dust), then you would benefit from a higher MERV rating. As the MERV rating increasing, finer particles are captured and a higher percentage of dust and microscopic particulate matter (PM) is removed. It is this subject of filtering fine particles, even as small as attached bacteria and viruses, that leads us into the next benefit, a recently popular topic of discussion.

#3 IAQ Improvement

While system protection is the priority and dust reduction is a close runner-up, the importance of air filters related to our indoor air quality (IAQ) is the third on the list of benefits of home air filters. This has become increasingly important as the average person spends 90% of their time in indoor spaces where concentrations of pollutants are 2-5 times greater as compared to the outdoor levels. Wouldn’t you want the cleanest air in the areas where you spend the greatest amount of time? IAQ may be the most important factor in air filtration for those that have serious concerns such as severe allergies and sensitivities to certain particulates and contaminants, perhaps just as important as other items they use, such as allergy medication, to lessen the symptoms caused by allergens. A MERV 8 rating is enough for those that have mild allergies and sensitivities. We recommend a MERV 11 rated air filter when you experience a moderate level of allergy issues. If you are highly sensitive to particulates, pollution, contaminants and various allergenic elements, you should consider a MERV 13 filter which will scrub your air from the finest particles, keeping your air as clean as fresh as possible.

US Home Filter Carries AC Filters to Fit All HVAC Units

No matter which HVAC system you have, every unit needs a quality filter that fits properly in order to keep your indoor air quality clean and your unit running at its maximum efficiency. US Home Filter can supply you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter makes filters that fit all AC/HVAC units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filtersgrille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

 

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What Is a Micron: A Study of Particles

When shopping for air filters or purifiers, you will commonly see the phrase “Remove particles as small as (number) microns”. But what is a micron and what does that mean? How does it matter when it comes to your indoor air quality? You may also wonder if there are any benefits to filtering out particles that are 1 micron versus those that are 5 microns, 10 microns, etc. How important is it and how does it affect your and your family’s health?

What is a Micron?

The first thing that is important is to understand is what a micron is. As defined by Dictonary.com, a micron, also called a micrometer, is a unit of measurement that is the millionth part of a meter. One inch is equal to 25,400 microns. To put that into perspective, the average human hair is approximately 50 microns and the human eye is only able to see particles that are at least 5 microns in size. That being said, 98% of all the particles floating around in our indoor air are less than 1 micron in size.

Take a look at the following chart that shows particle size in microns to help give perspective on the size of different particles. As you can see, those particles that we most want to keep out of our indoor air (viruses, asbestos, tobacco, smog, gas) are all less than 1 micron in size.

Micron particle sizes

Will Air Filters Capture These Small Particles?

A standard air filter found in most HVAC systems are designed to capture particles that are 5-10 microns or larger. So, if a filter has a micron rating of 7, it has the ability to trap particles that are 7 microns and larger. That sounds shocking after looking at the image above, doesn’t it? However, there is still more to understand regarding an air filters effectiveness in removing particles of specific sizes. Here are two more important terms:

Nominal Micron Rating: This rating measures how efficient an air filter is at capturing airborne particles of a certain size, ranging from 50-98.6%. It tells you the smallest size particle that may get trapped. For instance, if you have an air filter that removes particles as small as 8 microns with a 50% nominal micron rating, then the filter will capture around 50% of airborne particulates 10 microns in size.

Absolute Micron Rating: This rating gives the size of the largest particle that will pass through the filter and means that the filter is capable of removing at least 98.7% of a specific size particle. It basically tells you the filter is able to better remove particulates of the specific micron size.

If your current home air filter has a micron rating of 5, it is leaving a great majority (98%) of indoor air pollution floating around your home. This includes:

  • Fungi (2-10 microns)
  • Bacteria (0.2-10 microns)
  • Viruses (0.005-0.3 microns)
  • Tobacco smoke (0.01-4 microns)
  • Cooking smoke (0.03-0.9)
  • Pesticides and herbicides (0.001)
  • Volatile organic compounds (measured in picometers – a million times smaller than a micron)
  • Most household dust (0.05-100)
  • Pet dander (0.5-100)

How Will This Affect Your Health?

The American Lung Association reports that airborne particles 2.5 microns or less (called fine particles) are considered an inhalation hazard as they can be “easily inhaled deeply into the lungs where they can be absorbed into the bloodstream or remain embedded for long periods of time.” They also reported in a recent study that the mortality risk increased by 17% in areas with high concentrations of fine particles. These small particles also greatly affect you or your loved ones that have asthma problems as they can trigger asthma attacks and can cause respiratory irritation, coughing and wheezing.

What Can You Do?

Now that you have all the information on microns, it makes sense that you need an air filter that can capture airborne particles that are smaller than 1 micron. But do they exist? On to the last thing you need to know about air filters: MERV ratings.

MERV Rating

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiently Reporting Value and it is this number that tells you the effectiveness of your selected air filter. MERV ratings are calculated by measuring the number of particles a filter can trap compared to the number the particles it’s trying to filter. This means that if there are two filters in the same room, the one with the lower MERV rating traps fewer particles.

Basically, a filter’s MERV Rating is the numeric value assigned to it for rating and comparing the filter’s efficiency and performance. The range for standard MERV values is typically from 1 to 16, with the number indicating how well the filter removes particles from the air. The higher the MERV number, the better the filtration.

MERV 1-4: Common standard filters. Basic filtration. Low cost.
MERV 6-8: Good filtration usually used in residential settings. Made of pleated paper or cloth.
MERV 9-12: Relatively high efficiency, middle of the road filters. Can trap particles of 1 micron or larger.
MERV 13-16: Highest efficiency, best standard filters available. Can trap particles as tiny as 0.3 microns or larger.

There are filters available with MERV ratings higher than 16; however, they are thick and dense, and a typical residential HVAC system cannot readily handle them. In fact, they can end up interfering with the airflow by restricting it. In turn, this could end up reducing the effectiveness of your heating and cooling system and result in HVAC equipment damage. If you want an air filter with a MERV rating higher than 16, you must make sure that your HVAC system can handle them before buying and installing one.

Last, but not least, and most importantly, air filters should be checked at least once a month. If they are dirty, they need to be changed with a fresh clean air filter. How do you know if your air filter is dirty? When removing the air filter from the handler, hold it up to a light source and you will be able to see if the filter is dirty or clogged – if you can’t see the light through the filter, then it’s definitely time for it to be changed.

US Home Filter is Here for YOU

Determining the size that your system requires and choosing the MERV rating that is best for you can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never purchased air filters for your home or if you have a new unit or home to buy filters for. You can take a look at our air filter measurement guide to help you pick the right size or call us and we can easily assist you with ordering the exact air filter size you need and recommend the best rating for you depending on the level of filtration you want. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you! For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

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Winter Allergy Season Approaching

A lot of people believe that once the cold air arrives, their allergies will go away.  While that may be true for some, this is not the case for everyone.  Quite frequently, we tend to conclude that the symptoms we can experience during the harsh winter months are caused by either a cold or the flu. It can be difficult, at times, to distinguish the difference as many of the symptoms overlap. How can you be sure what you are dealing with? Understanding the variables can help you choose the right path of treatment and know whether you are going to be out of the woods relatively soon or if you are going down for the count. Here’s a breakdown comparison to help you narrow it down!

winter allergy season

So What’s The Deal With Winter Allergies?

As people spend more time indoors during the winter months in general, indoor allergies become more prevalent as compared to the rest of the year when the outdoor air is the biggest contributor to allergies.  As home furnaces kick in, dust, mold spores, and insect parts that have settled throughout the summer are dispersed into the air.  These allergens can cause a histamine response in the immune system, causing watery eyes, runny noses, and other symptoms of an allergy or asthma attack.  The most common winter allergy triggers are dust mites, mold, animals, and fragrances when it comes to indoor responses.  Dust mites are microscopic bugs that are most commonly found in mattresses and bedding, and their waste and remains trigger allergic responses when they become airborne or when you come in contact with them.  The spores of mold found in humid areas like bathrooms or basements can also trigger allergic responses.  Many people think they are allergic to Christmas trees, for example, but really they are allergic to the mold spores that may have collected on them while in storage.  Proteins found in pet hair, skin, saliva, and urine can also cause allergic reactions.  Finally, many perfumes and colognes, as well as lotions, hairspray, air fresheners, candles, and potpourri can elicit reactions with people who have allergies to fragrances.

There are many actions you can take in order to ease your winter allergies.  They include taking antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy shots.  Antihistamines are medicines that reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by blocking the effects of histamines in the body, and decongestants help clear mucus out of the nasal passageways.  They can be used together to treat both symptoms of allergies.  Allergy shots expose your body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen until you have time to grow to tolerate it.

Air Filters Can Help!

Filters serve the same main purpose in automobiles, vacuums, humidifiers, refrigerators, dryers, and your home furnace and air conditioner. Protection and removal of contaminants. In your HVAC system, the air filter is there to not only protect your system from harmful buildup on the internal components, but also to help keep the air in your home clean from dust and allergens. This is especially important during those harsh winter months where you are inside for longer periods of time and your house is kept closed to keep your warm air in and the cold air out. The benefits of clean, fresh air are particularly welcome in the winter season when it is more difficult to introduce fresh, outdoor air into the home. To help reduce those winter allergy triggers, make sure to replace your air filter regularly. If your allergies are particularly aggravated by the winter season, consider our highest-rated MERV 13 filters to capture the greatest percentage of microscopic contaminants. Not sure what size you need? Our air filter measurement guide can help!

Order Now and Receive FREE SHIPPING on Your Order!

Choosing the filters that are just right for you and your family can be a challenge sometimes. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we are here to help answer any questions you may have and help ensure that you have chosen the proper size air filter that will fit perfectly. If you need personal assistance with selecting your home air filters, contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673. We care about our customers and guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality MADE IN THE USA products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA!

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Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Taking care of your HVAC system to keep it running efficiently is an important item to include in your home maintenance plan every spring and fall. While there are some tasks that should be saved for a professional HVAC service company, there are several tasks that you can easily perform on your own to prolong the life of your system. Take a look at our Maintenance Checklist below for an overview of the types of things you can do to help take care of your unit as well as those items that should be completed by a qualified technician.

HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Indoor DIY Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

  • Clean the evaporator coil – The coil is usually located behind a door or panel above the blower motor. It is typically constructed in the shape of a letter A and covered with thin sheets of metal that are referred to as fins which are designed to best utilize the cooling effect of the refrigerant. Begin by using a soft brush to remove the outer layer of dust. Then spray with coil cleaner which can be found at your local home improvement store. Allow the cleaner to drip from the coil into the drain pan below. Clean the drain pan and ensure that the drain openly flows. This quick video
  • Clean the evaporator drain line – Warm, moist air travels through your evaporator coil. The heat is absorbed in the coil which cools it and circulates it back into your home. This process can create a humid environment which causes condensation on the coil that falls into a drip pan. A drain tube, usually about 1 inch in diameter, then carries the water into a floor or sink drain or sometimes the tube drains outdoors. A buildup of mold or algae can eventually cause a blockage. The drain tube can be cleaned by using a wet/dry vac, a plumbers snake, a garden hose, or by pouring distilled white vinegar through it.
  • Turn off water supply to the humidifier unit – Because of the humid environment created near the coil, it is recommended to turn off the water supply to your humidifier during the months when you are using your air conditioner. Some humidifier units are equipped with a Summer setting that will allow you to simply turn a knob to that setting to deactivate the humidifier for the season.
  • Change the air filterFacts About Standard Sized Air Filters – this is one of the easiest tasks you can do to keep your HVAC unit running at peak efficiency. Spring is the perfect time of year to change your air filter out since your system has likely been working hard over the previous winter months. Changing your filter now will give you a fresh start to the upcoming summer months, getting you started with a clean filter to allow your system to cool your home with ease. If spring allergies are a concern, we recommend our MERV 11 high-efficiency pleated filters to capture mold, pet dander, pollen, dust mite debris, and other contaminants.

Outdoor DIY Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

  • Clean the area around the condenser unit – You will likely have some debris that has collected around the base of the unit over the past few months. Leaves, stick, dirt, grass clippings, and other items commonly gather up against the unit. Sometimes, the exit for the ducting of the dryer vent will lead right into the side of the condenser unit. It is important to keep the condenser and the surrounding area clean and free from any type of debris.  Clear away any buildup of debris and trash as well as trim back vegetation and branches within a minimum of 2 feet around the unit.
  • Clean the condenser unit – Remove the outer cover or grate that covers the outdoor unit. A shop vac can be used to remove any debris on the outside of the unit. A garden hose can be used to spray the fins from the inside to wash away any built-up dirt on the fins. Coil cleaner may also be applied ahead of rinsing for caked-on debris.
  • Inspect and straighten fins – Condenser fins are positioned on the covering of your condenser unit outdoors. These function similarly to the fins on your evaporator coil by assisting with airflow and heat extraction. The fins are usually made of aluminum and are thin and easily damaged. When damage occurs, it disrupts an open path for air to freely flow and can adversely affect the efficiency of your unit since it will have to work harder. Here is a quick video with some easy instructions on repairing bent compressor fins.
  • Level the condenser unit – Having a condenser that is level allows your unit to function properly. Not only is it unsightly when the condenser pad is sinking off to one side, it also causes the lubricating oil to separate which can interrupt the flow of refrigerant through the system. It can also cause strain on the coolant lines leading to your home. A few simple items are usually all it takes to level the unit.

Hire a Professional

As we have shown above, there are a number of maintenance tasks that you can complete on your own to help take good care of your HVAC system. These items can all be done by a professional as well, if you don’t feel up to it. There are additional items that are important to have a professional take care of on a regular basis. It is usually best to schedule a technician to service the unit at least once a year, but ideally every six months. Preventative maintenance on your heating and air conditioning system goes a long way in prolonging the life of your unit. HVAC service companies may differ slightly in the tasks that are included in a tune-up or preventative maintenance service inspection, but you can generally expect the following to be addressed:

 

  • system inspection
  • check refrigerant levels
  • check coil and drain line/pan
  • look at compressor and motor
  • clean areas with buildup of dirt/debris
  • check air filter (may include replacement of filter)
  • replace worn belts, parts, or connections
  • test thermostat
  • test for leaks

One of the most important things you can do on your own to take good care of your expensive heating and air conditioning system is to simply change your air filter on a regular basis. The air filter in your unit is often one of the least expensive and easiest items to change. Additionally, replacing a dirty or clogged filter can have an immediate positive effect on the operation of the unit and its ability to keep the air in your home at the desired temperature without causing uneccessary strain on the moving components. A clean, fresh filter right before the approaching hot summer months will get you off to a great start!

At US Home Filter, we appreciate each and every one of our customers. We are here to help you choose the best solutions for your individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need!

Call us today at 1-855-237-1673!

 

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Duct Cleaning – What You Should Know

Air duct cleaning is something that has grown in popularity over the past several years. This service can be offered by a variety of companies including those that specialize in HVAC service and repair, cleaning services, restoration, or those that focus completely on cleaning air ducts. The ductwork in our homes and businesses is nicely tucked away, but many of us would be surprised to see what the inside spaces of the parts that make up this system may actually look like. There are diverse opinions either way regarding the necessity of duct cleaning, but those that suffer from allergies and have issues with excessive dust tend to be most receptive to the idea. Because it is a relatively recent process, no scientific studies have been able to prove that it will prevent illness and there are no findings available to show a measured improvement in air quality or a reduction in air particle counts. This article will outline the basics of ductwork, discuss what is involved with professional duct cleaning, and provide information that may help you decide if having your ducts cleaned is a good option for you.

What Is Duct Cleaning?

This typically involves a cleaning process which includes several components of your HVAC system. The list below identifies the items that are potentially included when having your ducts cleaned:

  • supply, return, and intake ducts and registers
  • grilles and diffusers
  • air handler, fans, and motor
  • housings, exchangers, and coils
  • drip pans

The methods used to perform cleaning can vary slightly, but standards have been established by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) to help ensure consistency across all providers of this service. Generally, you will first have an assessment of your ducts and HVAC system components listed above which will be similar to an inspection to determine the condition of your system and advise whether a cleaning is recommended or not. During the cleaning procedure, industry-specific tools are utilized to remove built-up dust and debris from the system and ducts that run through walls, under floors, and over ceilings inside your home – all in places that are nearly impossible for us to reach on our own. Then the loosened debris is vacuumed out, leaving behind a shiny, clean interior and the satisfaction of conquering those filthy ducts.

What Is Used to Clean Ducts?

There are various pieces of equipment, tools, and devices that duct-cleaning specialists will make use of when performing this service to your HVAC system.

  • Inspection Tools – items used to assess the level of debris that has collected inside the areas of the system that can be treated. These items can additionally be utilized to maintain a watch over the progress of the cleaning procedure and to determine if the results meet the desired expectations. Examples of these tools include mirrors, periscopes with lights, and cameras.
  • Compressed Air Devices – used in conjunction with many pneumatic tools that require direct air pressure. This usually comes in the form of a compressor.
  • Vacuums – specific vacuum devices are designed for use in air duct cleaning. Portable and truck-mounted units are both acceptable and approved by the NADCA. Either type of unit will create a negative pressure in the ductwork to maintain control over the flow of debris. If there is a need to extract moisture from any areas, a wet vacuum may also be used.
  • Access Tools – used to create an open path to various areas that are otherwise unreachable. Entry points are made using drills and saws, as needed, to allow equipment to successfully remove debris and clean the system. Whenever possible, access is made through diffusers, return grilles, vents, and duct end caps in order to avoid creating unnecessary openings.
  • Imaging Tools – these are used as inspection devices and also throughout the process to evaluate the results. Handheld cameras, CCTV cameras, and even remotely-operated mobile cameras that move through the ventilation as the process occurs can all be used to provide a clear view of the work performed.
  • Chemicals – cleaners and disinfectants may be recommended in some cases. These would include such things as biocides to kill bacteria and mold and sealants to repair leaks. Any chemicals or sanitizers used must be registered by the EPA. The NADCA provides a guide that discusses the use of chemicals related to duct cleaning.

Avoiding Scams

Unfortunately, this is something you will need to watch out for. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to do your research before choosing a company. Here are a few pointers you will want to consider.

  • Cheap offers that, once in your home to perform the job, will convince you to do a “mold inspection” only to determine that you have a mold problem that they will offer to take care of for additional charges. This is commonly done to cover costs of coupon or discount deals. If you are concerned about mold, hire a reputable company that specializes in mold testing.

Consumer Checklist

Now that you are familiar with the basics of air duct cleaning and armed with a few helpful tips of caution, you will want to ensure that you have done the following before making a final decision.

Read information from different trusted online sources

Read independent reviews and recommendations for companies you are considering

Get more than one estimate and references from each company

Choose a verified member of the NADCA to perform the service

Create a preventative care list that includes yearly inspection of your heating and cooling system, regular changes of the system air filter, and steps that ensure you prevent moisture from getting into the system.

At US Home Filter, we enjoy helping our customers solve filtration issues and we are here to answer your questions about your indoor air quality and allergy concerns. We recommend our highest-rated MERV 13 pleated filters for your home or business if you are looking for the highest level of air quality and suffer from severe allergies such as those that can be triggered by your loving pets. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!