Improving Winter Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Improve Your Homes Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)You might expect some relief from allergens and the allergies that they cause during the winter months. However, the colder months have proven to be very a very challenging time for those that suffer from indoor air allergies. Indoor air allergies are caused by dust and the allergens that are contained/associated with it. Weather you can see them or not, pollutants, allergens, and other debris are lingering in your air. Improving your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) during the winter months can make a big difference, especially to those with allergies and respiratory issues. The EPA reports that the air that we breathe in our homes, in schools and in offices can put us at risk for health problems. Improving your IAQ will reduce allergens such as dust, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, and other impurities and help your family breathe a bit easier.

Five Tips for Improving Your Winter IAQ

Circulation – The most beneficial thing you can do during the winter months (when your home is typically closed up) is keep the air circulating, which is a form of air replacement. On a “warmer” winter day, let some clean fresh air in to circulate throughout your home. This refreshes your indoor air and allows the allergens that are “trapped” inside your house a chance to move outside, increasing your home’s IAQ.

Humidity – As the air becomes more and more dry, increased humidity is often desired in the cold, dry months. However, many allergens, such as dust mites, mold, and bacteria thrive in overly-humid conditions. Turning on your humidifier is definitely necessary, but make sure to keep the relative indoor humidity level around 35%-50%. Also important – replacing your humidifier filters with fresh humidifier pads or filters about twice per season. When using the bathroom, especially when enjoying hot sowers, use the bathroom exhaust fans to keep the moisture level down. Keep an eye on basements and storage areas as well, as these are ideal locations for potential moisture.

Smoke – A tiny vapor particle that, in any form, will affect your indoor air quality. Examples include: smoke from tobacco, fireplaces, cooking, and even burning candles. Some of these produce a desirable scent or cozy atmosphere, however, they do not improve the quality of the air you breathe. Continue to enjoy and use your fireplaces and candles, but be aware that smoke particles can be bothersome to those respiratory conditions.

Air Filtration – Your furnace filters are a huge help with improving IAQ as their function goes beyond the basic purpose of just protecting your HVAC system (their main job). In fact, they add a level of defense by cleansing your air of impurities. Always keep on a regular schedule with changing your air filters as well. This allows your system to function optimally and continuously provides new surface areas for dust and allergens to collect on.

Regular Cleaning – Maintaining a clean home will only help keep the level of contaminants and dust to a minimum. Once dust and debris has settled, it is more difficult for them to be picked up by your furnace filter unless the area is disturbed. Regular vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning of surfaces will re-disperse the dust, allowing another opportunity for it to be captured by your filter before settling again.

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.

Sick Building Syndrome and IAQ

Sick Building Syndrome and Indoor Air QualityThe term “Sick Building Syndrome” is not readily known. Just by the name alone, you can imagine it has something to do with being in an unhealthy indoor environment. Sick Building Syndrome, or SBS, is a medical condition where people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feel unwell for no apparent reason. Spending a lot of time in the unhealthy environment result in symptoms such as tight chest, wheezing, sore throat, eye, and nose irritation and in some sever cases, dizziness, and nausea. But what makes a building ‘sick’? The causes of SBS are usually linked to flaws in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Factors That Contribute to Sick Building Syndrome

Inadequate Ventilation

Ventilation, the amount of fresh air that is brought indoors, is extremely important. Shockingly, a NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) research study concluded that over fifty percent (52%) of SBS cases could be traced back to inadequate ventilation. When HVAC systems were first installed in buildings, building ventilation standards called for around 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of outside air for each building occupant. The oil crisis of the early 1970s further reduced the ventilation standards to only 5 cfm to save energy. And it did just that. However, building occupants health began to decline and people started getting sick in droves. Thankfully, 20+ years later, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed a ventilation standard that balanced adequate ventilation and energy efficiency to prevent sickness. Now the requirement is back to a minimum of 15 cfm of outdoor air per person and 20 cfm per person in office spaces.

Carbon Dioxide

When CO2 levels are high (> 800 to 1000 parts per million) room air begins to feel ‘stuffy’. However, SBS symptoms can occur at a much lower concentration and anything above 1000 ppm can cause people to become quite sick. Thankfully, this level is very uncommon due to the proper ventilation system requirements in place as described above.

Chemical Contaminants from Indoor Sources

The amount of chemicals that make up the structure of our indoor spaces is quite overwhelming. Carpet, upholstery, paint, adhesives, copy machines, cleaning agents, etc. are all a part of our everyday lives, bringing an abundance of unhealthy chemicals into the air we breathe. These toxins include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), e.g. formaldehyde, which cause chronic and acute health effects at high levels.

Outdoor Contaminants

The outdoor air that enters a building is also a factor in indoor air pollution. Although adequate ventilation is a requirement, the type of air that comes inside is just as important. Think about all the exhaust fumes toll road workers are exposed to. Or the drive-through operator at a fast food restaurant who has the window open while idling cars wait for their order. Outdoor contaminants can also get into a building if the air intake vents are poorly located and polluted air and not fresh air is sucked into the building.

Natural Toxins

Mold, bacteria, viruses and pollen are all examples of natural toxins that can grow if your HVAC system is not properly maintained. Mold will grow in any standing pools of water near an HVAC unit, especially as outdoor temperatures increase. Water damage inside the building’s carpet, ceiling tiles or insulation can also be a cause of mold growth if not properly taken care of. Plants and weeds growing around the HVAC unit also cause issues as air flow into the building is restricted, pulling more pollen and allergens into the indoor air.

How Can We Prevent Sick Building Syndrome?

The most beneficial thing that can be done to reduce the effects of poor indoor air quality is to improve air filtration. Air filtration provides us with a means to attain the desired level of indoor air quality. Air filters were originally intended to simply shield the components of your expensive HVAC system, protecting it from harmful dust build-up and extending its life. As the manufacturing process of air filters evolved, filtration media became more refined and specialized. This allowed air filtration to go beyond system protection into cleaning contaminants, allergens, and other bothersome particles from our air using high-efficiency pleated air filters. Since then there has been a significant improvement in indoor comfort and cleaner air in our homes and businesses.

US Home Filter Offers AC Filters for Every HVAC System

No matter which type of HVAC system your home has, every unit needs a quality air filter that fits properly 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 exactly 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.

Coronavirus: How to Protect Yourself in Your Home

Coronavirus - protecting your indoor airDid you know that average person spends 90% of their time in indoor spaces? This is also where concentrations of pollutants are 2-5 times greater as compared to the outdoor levels. As more of us are under a stay-at-home order to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus, the amount of time spent indoors is increasing, making indoor air quality in the home more important than ever. Our focus has shifted to ensuring we’re taking the necessary precautions needed to protect our families and reduce the chances of coming into contact with the virus. However, it is important to remember that the Coronavirus is not the only virus, germ, disease or pollutant we need to protect ourselves from in our home.

Coronavirus: Particle Size and Spread

It is believed that the Coronavirus is spread mainly by respiratory droplets that can travel several feet from the person that is infected when they cough or sneeze. Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing is the first thing you can do to help control the spread. It is also the reasoning behind the recommendation to wear a face mask while out in public.  The virus has the same traits as other viruses like a sore throat, common cold and flu, by how it spreads from person to person.

According to the American Lung Association, 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.” A respiratory droplet is approximately 1 micron in size. A micron (or micrometer) is a unit of measurement that is one-millionth of a meter. To put that into perspective, the average human hair is approximately 50 microns. The human eye is only able to see particles that are at least 5 microns in size. 98% of all the particles floating around in our indoor air are </= 1 micron in size, including the coronavirus.

Will HVAC Filters Capture These Small Coronavirus Particles?

HVAC filters come with a micron rating representing an air filters effectiveness in removing particles of specific sizes. Standard air filters 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 is able to trap particles that are 7 microns and larger. That sounds shocking after learning the micron size of the Coronavirus, doesn’t it? However, there is still another level of understanding when it comes to an air filter’s effectiveness in removing particles of specific sizes. Here are two 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.

Now that you have all the information on microns, it’s clear you need an air filter captures airborne particles smaller than 1 micron. But do they exist? On to the last thing you need to know about protecting your indoor air with the right air filters: MERV ratings.

MERV Rating

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiently Reporting Value. It is a numeric value 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. The range for standard MERV values is typically from 1 to 16 for home HVAC systems, 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. 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.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Indoor Air

  • Cover your mouth with your elbow (NOT YOUR HANDS) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wear something over your mouth when in public spaces (mask, scarf, or a bandanna).
  • Get fresh air circulating throughout your house. Open doors and windows as much as possible. Higher ventilation is key in reducing the risk of viruses.
  • Consider removing shoes before coming in the house. Shoes carry in dirt and particles that can be kicked up into your indoor air.
  • Get outside as much as possible, keeping a safe distance (6 feet or more) from anyone other than your immediate family.
  • Monitor your indoor humidity level as viruses survive longer in lower humidity. For more information on humidity levels, click here.

Most importantly, check your air filters and change them regularly. 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. Dirty, clogged air filters can’t do their job of trapping viruses like the coronavirus and other indoor air pollutants!

US Home Filter is Here for YOU

In times like these, emotions are running high and there is fear and concern about the unknown. Most of us probably feel like we need to become experts on things we never imagined having to think about. If you have ANY questions regarding your filter size or choosing the MERV rating that is best for you, don’t fret. 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. You can also 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! 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.