Furnace Filters and Their Many Health Benefits
Though it’s often tucked into a faraway corner of your house, your furnace play’s an integral role in your overall quality of life. By circulating warm air throughout your home, it brings basic comfort on a cold day whether you’re busy with chores, having a family gathering, or kicking back on the couch for a good movie.
What the average homeowner fails to realize is that the quality of this warm air depends on regularly inspecting and replacing their furnace filter. This is a thin, rectangular contraption usually made from cotton, fiberglass, or polyester, that’s designed to remove particles from the air your furnace draws in from the outdoors. In other words, the air you breathe from inside your home.
Filters are rated according to the MERV scale, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and goes from 1-20. The higher the number, the smaller the particles your filter is able to trap. For most households, it’s recommended to use filters with a MERV rating between 8-11. This range protects you and your loved ones from a host of contaminants that could put your health at risk. Let’s go through a handful of the major ones plus a couple general benefits every filter provides.
Mold is a type of fungus that likes to grow into materials made from cellulose, such as wood. It forms due to excess moisture, which can occur if your furnace filter becomes too clogged to permit proper airflow. Without a steady stream of air to achieve your desired temperature setting, your furnace will have to work extra hard to reach it, raising the risk of condensation for mold colonies to proliferate in.
Mold reproduces by releasing spores into the air. Breathing them in can cause nausea and vomiting as well as serious pulmonary infections that could lead to pneumonia. That said, with a little prevention, all of these worries should become afterthoughts. Take your health into your own hands and learn more about furnace filters today.
If you live in a big bustling city, furnace filters are a hassle-free way to find relief from many sources of pollution. Some, like smog, are an everyday reality where cars are necessary to get around and major industrial factory jobs keep food on the table.
Others depend on the members of the household and the amount of surrounding greenery:
- Pet dander
- Scented sprays
If you have allergies or suffer from asthma, any of the five pollutants mentioned above could induce an episode and make your respiratory problems worse. It’s important to be acutely aware of the quality of the air you breathe and take the appropriate precautions.
Consider a high-efficiency electrostatic furnace filter with a MERV rating of 8 or higher to capture particles as large as 3 microns, or the consistency of milled flour. Electrostatic filters create friction between the air and their layers of vented metal, resulting in a positive charge that helps particles attach themselves on the way through.
As we move up the MERV scale, the smaller the particles your furnace filter will be able to stop in their tracks. A rating of 9 or higher will shield you from viruses like the flu and bacteria like Legionella.
Legionella is the cause of Legionnaires’ disease, a debilitating form of pneumonia that diminishes your lung capacity and leads to severe muscle aches. You contract it by inhaling contaminated water droplets in the air that come from excess moisture in your vents or furnace.
The influenza or flu virus is an infection that spreads by entering another organism and multiplying itself once inside. Symptoms include fever, congestion, and fatigue that can last for weeks at a time. Viruses have the ability to change their biology and develop resistance to medical intervention, making it difficult to develop effective vaccines against them.
These health risks may be serious, but they are completely preventable. Simply clean your furnace filter with a vacuum on a regular schedule and replace it as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Another benefit of keeping your furnace filter clean is preventing cold spots from forming. These occur when your filter becomes clogged and your furnace doesn’t have the power to circulate enough warm air to effectively heat your home. The result is that certain rooms won’t receive adequate heating or proper ventilation, which puts the elderly and anyone with a weakened immune system at risk.
On top of that, continued exposure to cold temperatures produces discomfort, irritability, and drains you of the energy you need to have a productive day. A home should be a place to destress and let your guard down after all the important work is done. If you’re concerned about your indoor air quality, your furnace filter may be the source of the problem.
If you haven’t been checking your furnace filter at least once a month, and foreign particles enter your house’s air supply, you’re more likely to experience laboured breathing and wake up in the night.
The consequences of lack of sleep are well documented and extremely detrimental if left unchecked. These include depression, heart disease, high blood-pressure, weight gain and poor nutrition, and a general deterioration in short and long-term memory. There’s also the matter of slower reaction times, which increases the likelihood of accidental injury.
The key is creating an environment where you can get seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. The essential elements are only two – clean air and a comfortable room temperature – both of which can be achieved through diligent furnace filter maintenance. Make sure to clear it of any excess dust and hair and you’ll wake up ready to conquer the day.
It might be hard to believe that a dozen pleats of polyester held together by an aluminum frame can be so pivotal to the wellbeing of you and your family, but it most certainly is. Show your furnace the care it deserves by regularly inspecting the filter, and your loved ones will thank you with a lifetime of beautiful memories.