Air filters play a key role in buildings with forced air heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Using the correct air filters for the application, and regularly changing them, can significantly impact the indoor air quality (IAQ) of the building.
They also help to keep the HVAC system clean, while removing airborne matter that could otherwise cause both health and comfort issues. Unfortunately, because air filters are out of sight, many people forget to change them on a routine basis. If not regularly replaced, they can become overloaded with dust and particulate matter which can make the HVAC system run less efficiently, increasing energy costs and even decreasing the life of the system.
A dirty filter may also negatively impact indoor air quality if it is no longer properly removing airborne matter. In a high humidity environment, a dirty filter could even support the growth of mold, releasing spores and odors into the air.
While following the manufacturer's recommendation for the type of air filter to use and how frequently to change it is an excellent starting point, there are other factors that can come into play. For example, how frequently is the HVAC system used; how large is the building; do building occupants suffer from allergies, asthma, COPD or other respiratory conditions; are there pets in the building; and is the building in an area prone to outside air pollution, high pollen counts or dusty conditions?
The type of air filter can also play a role in how frequently it needs to be changed. Filters are given a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). MERV ratings above 12 are typically used in special circumstances outside of a residential setting. The higher the MERV rating, the more effective it is at filtering airborne particles, but these denser filters may need to be changed more frequently. Also, if higher MERV filters cause too much resistance, a pressure drop in the HVAC system could lead to problems.
“As a general rule, subject to the conditions previously mentioned, a residential air filter should be changed at least every 90 days, but in some situations, filters may need to be changed much more frequently, even monthly,” said Harry Pena, President of Zimmetry Environmental. “For businesses and large institutions, filter change frequency, and which filters to use, also have to do with building occupancy rates, what activities take place in the property, and other factors such as infection control concerns.”
Helping residents and businesses optimize their indoor environmental quality are the building science and industrial hygiene professionals from Zimmetry Environmental. Their experts provide building assessments to identify indoor pollutants, ventilation and filtration issues, and provide recommendations to resolve any problems found. Zimmetry also recently sponsored an educational video about air filters and IAQ in homes that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/p6N6sEWKtvA
To learn more about Zimmetry Environmental and their building science, indoor environmental quality, compliance and consulting services, please visit www.zimmetry.com, call (787) 995.0005 or email email@example.com .
About Zimmetry Environmental
Since 2002, Zimmetry Environmental has been providing environmental consulting services to building owners and managers, architects, engineers, EHS professionals and Fortune 500 companies. The company is based in Puerto Rico and provides services across the Caribbean and Central America. The professionals at Zimmetry offer environmental compliance, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead-based paint, Phase I ESAs and general environmental consulting services.
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