According to the EPA, the air in your Sacramento home is often worse than what you’re breathing outdoors. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since we’re surrounded by things that degrade the quality of the air we breathe, whether we realize it or not. Besides obvious contaminants like animal dander or dust, even our furniture, electronics, paint, and insulation could be making us uncomfortable. But it’s not just one more inconvenience to live with. Indoor air quality services (IAQ) from Ace Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning can take care of several IAQ problems, with effective air filters being one of the simplest and most affordable.

What Do Air Filters Do?

Most homes in the Sacramento area use forced air from a furnace installation, and many have central air conditioning. That means that for most of the year, your home is “breathing” constantly, circulating an enormous volume of air. But the air isn’t all that’s being circulated. Whatever’s indoors (VOCs, mold spores, pet dander, even cigarette smoke) and whatever’s pulled in from outdoors (pollen, exhaust fumes, and other contaminants are common in homes with poor insulation) is getting a free ride, too. Air filters help to cut down on indoor pollution.

Signs of Air Filtration Problems in Your Home or Business

When they’re clean, properly sized, and installed right, HVAC filters are extremely effective on their own. But they’re not completely problem-free. If you notice the following, it may be time for a new air filter.

  • You constantly feel like you’re coming down with something
  • You notice the dusting never seems to stop
  • Your runny nose or respiratory problems magically clear up when you go outside
  • You keep a clean house, but there always seems to be a lingering smell
  • Your HVAC system takes longer than usual to heat or cool your home
  • Your energy bills are starting to climb

Picking the Best Air Filters

Choosing the right air filter is easy if you know what you’re doing. If you’re not sure, call an Ace! In short, however, you need the right type of filter for your system, and it should also be the right size. Proper installation matters, too — some filter types literally won’t fit, and you won’t gain anything by trying to cut them down to size or ignoring the gaps in a filter that’s a bit too small.

Types of Air Filters

There are several brands and types of air filters. More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, but we’ve also found that with cheap air filters you tend to get what you paid for (or less), so choose carefully. The type of filter is especially important; as we’re about to see, some filters’ high efficiency, or MERV value, can cut back on airflow to a degree that they can damage your system, so if you’re unsure of your choices, call us.

  • Fiberglass filters are common because they’re cheap and disposable. They also have the lowest average filtration capabilities.
  • Electrostatic filters carry a minuscule electric charge that attracts and traps pollutants; these filters are often washable and reusable.
  • Pleated filters can be disposable or reusable. Their accordion-like folds increase the surface area so they trap more contaminants.
  • HEPA filters use higher-density materials, and may even have layers of filtration, to combat allergens. While effective, these do tend to restrict airflow and may not be suitable for all systems.
  • Activated carbon filters are especially useful in settings where odor reduction is needed as much as air filtration; these filters are sometimes a component of one of the other filter types listed above.

When to Change Air Filters

Common air filters are rated for about 90 days of good performance, but that duration changes with the other filter types listed above. That being said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with changing them a bit ahead of schedule. That’s a good idea during times of the year when you might give your HVAC system a break by keeping the windows open, when you’ve been doing a deep cleaning that raises a lot of dust when your pets are shedding if someone in your home smokes indoors, or when you’ve gotten new furniture. Afraid you might forget?

  • Jot it down in your day planner, or set a reminder on your phone
  • Keep your filters somewhere visible (your garage, a workspace, or a utility closet)
  • When your bill arrives or you get your autopay notification, check your filter

Indoor Air Quality Solutions from Ace Plumbing

Air filters are just one of the many heating and air components that need periodic attention. Many other parts of your system will need the occasional cleaning, adjustment, or replacement. So call Ace Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning when you need home heating service or air conditioner repair and maintenance, as well as all your IAQ needs!