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The Best Air Filter for Allergies

If you suffer from allergies, you know how important it is to maintain good air quality in your home. Airborne allergens like pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and dust mites can trigger unpleasant symptoms, from a runny nose to difficulty breathing. While it's impossible to eliminate all indoor air pollution from your environment, using high-quality air filters in your HVAC system and air purifiers can significantly reduce their presence, making the air cleaner and providing much-needed relief for allergy sufferers.

How to Tell if You Have Allergies to Airborne Particles

If you suspect you are allergic to airborne particles, there are several signs and symptoms to look out for.

Symptoms of Allergies to Airborne Particles

Allergies present differently depending on your specific sensitivity and environment. However, if you regularly experience more than one of the following symptoms inside your home, you may be sensitive or allergic to something in the air.

  • Sneezing

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Itchy, watery eyes

  • Itchy nose, mouth, or throat

  • Coughing

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue or weakness

If you consistently experience these symptoms, especially when exposed to certain environments or during specific times of the year, you likely have an allergy to one or more airborne particles.

If you'd like to learn more about the particles that cause allergic symptoms, read What is Dust Made Of?

Monitor the Air Quality in Your Home

To better understand your allergy triggers, consider monitoring the air quality in your home with an air quality sensor. An air quality monitor can track levels of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other pollutants. By identifying patterns in your symptoms and the corresponding air quality data, you can pinpoint which allergens are most problematic for you and take steps to reduce their presence in your home.

Decoding HVAC Filter MERV Ratings: What You Need to Know

When shopping for air filters, pay close attention to the "MERV rating." MERV is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and it's a standard scale that measures an air filter's ability to capture particles of various sizes. The scale goes from 1 to 20, with higher numbers indicating better filtration.

Here's a breakdown of what different MERV ratings mean:

  • MERV 1-4: These filters can capture large particles like dust, pollen, and carpet fibers but are ineffective against smaller particles like mold spores and pet dander.

  • MERV 5-8: Filters in this range can capture smaller particles, including mold spores and some dust mite debris, but may not be sufficient for those with more severe allergies.

  • MERV 9-13: These filters offer excellent filtration, capturing particles as small as 1 micron. MERV 11 and MERV 13 air filters are a good choice for most allergy sufferers, provided they are suitable for your HVAC system.

  • MERV 14-16: Filters with these high MERV ratings can capture even the tiniest particles, including smoke and bacteria. They are often used in commercial and medical settings but may restrict airflow in residential HVAC systems.

  • MERV 17-20: HEPA and ULPA filters used in general surgery area, clean rooms and environments where hazardous materials are present. HEPA filter can also be found in stand alone room air purifiers.

It's important to note that while a higher MERV rating indicates better filtration, it also means that the filter will be denser, potentially reducing airflow in your HVAC system. When choosing a filter, consider its MERV rating and compatibility with your specific system to ensure optimal performance.

HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are high-efficiency filters that can clean air of 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. While HEPA filters are not assigned MERV ratings, they are considered equivalent to MERV 17-20. Due to their density, HEPA filters are typically used in standalone air purifiers rather than HVAC systems.

Choosing the Right HVAC Filter for Your Home's Needs

When selecting an HVAC filter to help manage your allergies, consider the following factors:

  • MERV rating: Choose a filter with a MERV rating of at least 9, preferably 11 or higher, to effectively capture most airborne allergens.

  • Size: Ensure your filter is the correct size for your HVAC system. Using an improperly sized filter can lead to poor performance and damage the system.

  • Compatibility: Check your HVAC system's manufacturer recommendations for the maximum MERV rating it can accommodate without impeding airflow.

  • Replacement frequency: Plan to replace your filter every 1-3 months, depending on factors like usage, household size, and the presence of pets. A clogged filter can reduce efficiency and worsen air quality.

Read How Often Should You Change Your Air Filter? to learn about the optimal air filter replacement schedule.

Air Purifiers for Allergy Sufferers

In addition to using high-quality HVAC filters, allergy sufferers can benefit from using standalone air purifiers in their homes. Most air purifiers are intended to filter airborne pollutants, including allergens, from the air in a specific room or area.

Several types of air purifiers are available, each with its own filtration method.

HEPA Air Purifiers

HEPA air purifiers use dense, pleated filters to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns. They are highly effective at removing allergens like pet dander and dust mite debris from the air, making them the best air purifiers for allergies. When choosing a HEPA air purifier, look for models with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) appropriate for the size of the room in which it will be used.

Ionizer Air Purifiers

Ionizer air purifiers charge airborne particles with a negative electrical charge, causing them to stick to surfaces like walls and floors. While this removes the particles from the air, it does not eliminate them from the environment. Additionally, some ionizers can produce ozone, which can irritate the lungs and worsen allergy symptoms.

UV Air Purifiers

UV air purifiers kill microorganisms like bacteria and viruses with ultraviolet light. UV light doesn't remove allergens from the air but effectively reduces the spread of illness. UV air purifiers are often used in conjunction with other filtration methods for comprehensive air cleaning.

How to Maintain a Low-Allergen Environment

In addition to using high-quality air filters and purifiers, there are several steps you can take to maintain a low-allergen environment in your home:

Regularly Replace HVAC Air Filters and Air Purifier Filters

You should replace air filters to maintain good indoor air quality and prevent allergen buildup. Here's a general guide for how often to replace your filters:

  • HVAC filters: Replace every 1-3 months, depending on usage and household factors (note: deeper pleated 4 inch filters can last as long as 6 to 10 months)

  • Air purifier pre-filters: Every 1-3 months

  • Air purifier HEPA filters: Every 6-12 months

By keeping track of HVAC and air purifier HEPA filter replacements, you can ensure that your air filtration equipment is working at peak efficiency to remove allergens from your home.

Other Tips for Reducing Allergens

HVAC air filters and air purifiers will help you minimize airborne particles that trigger your allergies, but it can also be helpful to avoid introducing allergens in the first place, especially into areas like your bedroom.

  • Vacuum regularly with a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA air filter

  • Dust surfaces with a damp cloth

  • Wash bedding in hot water weekly

  • Keep pets out of bedrooms and off furniture

  • Use allergen-proof covers on mattresses and pillows

  • Maintain a relative humidity between 30-50% to prevent mold growth

  • Avoid bringing outdoor shoes inside the house

By implementing these strategies and using high-quality air filters and purifiers, you can significantly reduce your exposure to airborne allergens and enjoy better indoor air quality.

Buy Compatible HVAC and Air Purifier Filters from Atomic Filters

Atomic Filters offers a wide range of high-quality, compatible HVAC and air purifier filters designed to help allergy sufferers breathe easier. Our replacement filters—including MERV 11 and MERV 13 HVAC air filters and HEPA air purifier filters—capture airborne allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mite debris.

When you choose Atomic Filters, you can expect:

  • Compatibility with a wide range of HVAC systems and air purifier models

  • Low prices and free shipping on qualifying orders

  • Excellent customer service and support

By investing in high-quality air filters from Atomic Filters, you can take a significant step towards improving your indoor air quality and managing your allergy symptoms. 

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