If you remember I have done a few posts over the last year about the importance of changing our your air filters in your home. Not only for health reasons, but it can be a costly fix if your air filter system becomes clogged and doesn't run properly.
I have had a handful of conversations over the year last year as I've began working with 3M Filtrete Filters as a brand ambassador. A common "issue" I've heard from so many people is they don't understand the difference in all the styles of filters. As with many products there's the lower cost items and then there's high cost products. What's the difference when it comes to air filters when you buy a $1 filter and the $20 filter. Where does the compromise happen? Is it to the people living in the home and the quality of air they're getting, or the air system in the home?
Questions kept coming up like:
Why would I buy a $20 filter if I can buy a $1 and just change it every month? -- But who actually remembers changing it every 30 days?
Will I actually see a health benefit if I buy one that's made for odors/allergens/pets or am I just buying into a marketing scheme?
I haven't changed my filters in like a year -- does it really matter? I don't get sick so I don't see why it matters?
But, when I joined the Filtrete team I learned a lot more about the true science behind the filters and what I learned has been truly helpful it making the right decisions on something that does effect my family and my health. Also the health of my home.
I wanted to do a true Q&A with 3M to get down to the nitty gritty science-techy nerdy details of air filters so I could provide my readers with the same knowledge and hopefully start to answer some of the common questions I hear!
I would like to introduce the King of the 3M Science-Techy Nerd team (and I mean that with the up-most respect and jealousy that they probably have really cool label printers):
Let's first share a little background on Larry so you know his credentials, so go ahead Larry - share your story!
A: "I have 35 years of experience in the air filtration and non-woven web industry and currently serve as a 3M Technical Service Specialist for Filtrete Brand. In this role, I act as the primary liaison between the customers and the lab to improve our existing technologies and develop new innovations in the air filtration category based on the needs and feedback of the customers. I also do this by monitoring industry trends, testing our products against competitors and working to guarantee the accuracy of our product claims."
Q: So you know what your talking about here?
Why is it important for people to be educated on what exactly is the purpose of air filters?
A: "The filter aisle in your local store can be very confusing and even a bit overwhelming. Understanding the various types of filters available to you is important because different filters serve different purposes. Homeowners should choose their filters based on their family’s specific needs. Are you looking for a basic filter to help maintain your heating and cooling system? Or do you have pets or allergy sufferers in the home?
A few things to look for when choosing a filter are the number of pleats and the durability of the filter frames. Pleats increase the amount of surface area in the filter frame, allowing more particles to be captured and making it easier for air to pass through the filter. Strong frames help filters withstand pressure created by the air movement through the filter without bending or collapsing. Bent frames can allow unfiltered air to bypass the filter, while collapsed frames can be drawn into the furnace fan and result in damage to the system."
Q: There are SO many types of air filters out there -- it's almost harder to pick out my air filter than it is to pick out my outfits. Can you help narrow this down for the average shopper?
Understandably there are air filter varieties for high allergens, pets, etc on the market. However to narrow it down to the “average” user can you help us understand why there is such a wide price range and style of air filters?
A: "There are a wide variety of filters designed to help maintain the system and capture varying levels and types of airborne particles. The line of Filtrete Filters are rated by a microparticle rating (MPR). The higher the MPR, the more microscopic particles, such as smoke, smog, pet dander, and bacteria and viruses, are captured.
If someone in your family has allergies, consider a high performance filter like the Healthy Living Filter (MPR 2200), which captures up to 40 times more microscopic particles than fiberglass filters. To help reduce pet dander and/or odors in the home, you may want to use the Odor Reduction Filter (MPR 1500). If you’re simply looking to maintain airflow, prevent stress on the system and capture particles such as dust, pollen and lint, consider a lower MPR-rated filter.
Q: Why have I been told by so many people (real estate agent, landlors, property manager etc) that there's no need to spend $ on the costly air filters and the $1 work just fine. As someone that studies the science of these things - can you please spell it out for me finally?
A: There is a misconception that pleated filters restrict airflow, but not all pleated filters are created equal. We frequently run tests in our lab to measure the performance of our Filtrete Filters against other pleated filters. What we’ve found is that other filters with similar ratings are tightly woven and may restrict airflow in the system, causing the system to work harder and run longer. An example of one of these airflow tests can be seen in this video: http://www.filtrete.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/FiltreteNA/Filtrete/Resources/VideoLibrary/
Filtrete Filters will help capture airborne particles for up to three months, but sometimes they need to be changed sooner, especially during the hot summer months and cold winter months when you are running the system constantly. An easy way to test the filter is to hold it up to light. If the filter is completely blocking the light, it’s a good idea to change it.
Q: What's the difference between using air filters and getting an air purifier? Do I need both?
A: While air purifiers can be effective for air cleaning, they are limited to only the room you are running the system in. If you want to help reduce airborne particles and improve air quality throughout the entire home, the best way to do so is to regularly change the filter in your forced air heating and cooling system. And, what many homeowners don’t realize is that you should be changing your heating and cooling system filter regularly anyway as part of maintaining the system—at least every three months. An easy way to remember to change it is to do it at the start of every season when you’re checking your smoke alarm batteries.
Q: If you could share one important tip and little known fact about air filters – what would it be?
A: Since your readers are often conducting home improvement projects at home, it’s good for them to know that work indoors can contribute to poor indoor air quality and add more particles, such as sheet rock or soot, into the air their families are breathing. During home improvement projects, homeowners should consider upgrading their filter to one with a higher MPR rating to help capture more of those airborne particles. Additionally, because the air is dirtier, they should also change the filter more frequently, especially during long-term projects.
Dirty filters are the most common cause of heating and cooling system problems, and when not changed regularly, can cause the system to shut down. Before calling in repairmen and paying costly fees, often times all it takes is checking and changing the filter.
He spells it out pretty easily actually!!!
There were a few key points he mentioned that really stood out to me so I wanted to share those again and hopefully can help you remember certain things about your air filters.
Be sure to check out Filtrete.com for more information and available products!