Southwestern Ontario is one the warmest places in Canada and has as much biological activity as many parts of the United States. The extra plant life also means more pollen and warm weather disease. Living indoors in Southwestern Ontario in the warmer months without a proper filtration system is a health hazard not only for those who suffer from allergies but also for those with respiratory issues.
Dead skin cells and food particles feed dust mites which are very small arachnids that contribute enormously to allergies. Bacteria also breed under cool and moist conditions, so a closed space can actually be filled with more health dangers than the immediate outdoors. The only real solution is to install a better filter especially if the current one is insufficient or has reached its limit.
Filtration for allergies does depend on the fineness of the filter. Filters have a MERV rating that ranges from 1 to 20. 20 is the highest standard in the industry and the finest fabric is used to trap particles as small as airborne viruses. While a higher MERV rating does a better job in cleaning the inside air, higher pressures are also needed to pass air through the filter and still circulate in the home.
Filters with low ratings are still desirable because a less powerful compression is needed. This saves energy and so cost efficiency is the major trade off when choosing a home air conditioning system. Filters with a MERV rating as low as 4 will efficiently trap pollen and animal dander. Higher filters serve to eliminate smoke particles and bacteria sufficient for industrial processes. Hospitals often use a 16 rated filter for obvious reasons but they also pay higher HVAC operating costs.
Protecting yourself from allergies can be as simple as routinely replacing the filter. Those with a lower rating have a courser mesh and trap fewer particles before reaching saturation. They are also cheaper so frequent replacement is necessary (on average, every 30-90 days is recommended depending on your individual situation). An air conditioning system can be outfitted with a higher rating filter, but there are limits.
Because fine filters require higher pressures, an improper match between filter and furnace will cause air to circulate into the room very weakly or not at all. Air conditioners that automatically work harder to achieve air pressure might consume more electricity and also wear out faster. Outfitting a standard HVAC unit with a 14 filter could possibly damage it.
Using a more powerful filter means installing a specialized unit. However, filtration for allergies seldom requires this with the only exception being people with clinical needs. The bottom line is you need proper filtration of airborne pollutants in order to maintain a healthy home. Do a bit of research and strike a balance between MERV rating and operating costs as noted above. Speak to the folks at Postma Heating and Cooling at (519) 354-9491 or visit them online – www.postma.ca – and ask them about what filtration method is best for your home.