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Can’t Breathe? Maybe Your Filter is to Blame

After the excitement of the holidays, sometimes the doldrums of winter can set in.  It is dark and cold outside and we tend to stay inside more than out.  Breathing the same inside air all the time could lead to some troubles with breathing.  Are you having a higher incidence of asthma or allergies?  When was the last time you changed your filter?  All central cooling and heating systems utilize some type of filter in their return air ducts and re-circulate the same air and pollutants day after day.  These pollutants include dust, bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus, mildew and gases.  Dust can come from hair, skin, clothes or shoes when you walk in and out.  The mildew, fungus and molds can come with the dust or grow within the heating and cooling systems.  To help reduce these pollutants and to maintain the efficiency of your existing central heating or cooling system, it is important to understand the type of filtration system you have and how to maintain it.

Filters come in different efficiencies that are measured in the percentage of  “arrestance,” that is, what amount and size of particles do they stop.  The higher the percentage, the smaller the particle the filter will stop.  There are three types of filtration systems normally found in duct systems.  They are:

1)    Conventional “throw-away” fiberglass-these are the most inexpensive and most common filters that you can buy.  They’re the filter you can see through. They stop only 15% of the largest dust particles in the air.  But they have no effect on pollen, micro-organisms, smoke or other similar pollutants.  Replace monthly, winter and summer.

2)    H. E. P. A., or Pleated Paper-these filters look like a paper version of drapery pleats and stop up to 45% of the particles in the air.  This type of filter is the easiest upgrade for the money spent.  These filters come in the same size as a fiberglass filter and are available at most hardware/home improvement store.  Replace every 1 to 3 months.

3)    Electronic (not electrostatic)-this filter system uses ionizing cells and offers the best results.  It has the highest capture rate of up to 95% of all airborne pollutants including bacteria, dust, animal hair, dust mites, mildew, lint, fungus, smoke, cooking grease, mold and viruses.  An electronic air filter can pay for itself by increasing energy efficiency and prolonging the life of your system.  These cells must be removed and cleaned at least once a month with either a hose or in your dishwasher in order to enjoy maximum efficiency and a cleaner home. And one benefit of this high efficiency filter is a reduction in the need to dust the furniture.

Remember as the furnace gets older, its efficiency level drops significantly.  For example, a typical gas furnace installed in 1970 probably operates at less than 60% efficiency, even lower with dirty filters.  Filters not only impact the quality of your home breathing air but also the efficiency of your heating system, and your wallet!

Most importantly, make sure that all of the air in your heating or cooling system is filtered.  You can rely on a FLAME service technician to verify that all the return air to a system is pulled through the filter system and that the filter system is sized appropriately for the size of your home.  Our technicians can also show you where the filter is on your system and how to change the filter.  Or, if you are considering an upgrade to your filtration system, please call our experienced comfort consultants for their free recommendation.

Still have questions?  Want more information?  Feel free to contact FLAME!

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