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What Dirty Air Filters Can Mean for a Home and for People's Health


Understanding the Effects of Dirty Air Filters

Those who have ever driven on a gravel road know how dusty the air can get, know that if the windows happen to be down, the air in the car gets dusty, dirty, and hard to breathe. Unfortunately, this is how it can feel in a house with poor air quality too: dusty, dirty, and hard to breathe. Air quality and the benefits of clean air are some of the biggest factors contributing to the standard of living in a home. Despite its importance, sometimes homeowners will try to take the cheaper route to fix their air quality. Who doesn’t want to save a few bucks, right?

So instead of replacing their disposable air filters, they’ll try to clean them instead. Or instead of taking steps to improve the HVAC system and air quality as a whole, they’ll just fix one small piece of the puzzle. Though this might cause symptoms of poor air quality to disappear for a short period of time, it’s not a good long-term solution.

Health Issues from Poor Air Quality


health issuesDirty air filters have a lot of downsides to them, including a few health hazards. Though this is especially prominent in homes with people that have allergies, asthma, or respiratory illnesses, these health hazards could happen to anyone.

The role of an air filter is to trap dirt, dust, pollen, and other contaminants and pollutants so they can’t float around the rest of the home. Over time, these filters become too full and they can’t do their job well anymore, so the dust, dirt, and other contaminants start to make their way through the home.

This is when symptoms of poor air quality start to show. People may notice that they have itchy eyes, headaches, dizziness, congestion, or trouble breathing. Homeowners are responsible for protecting the people in the home, and therefore, are responsible for maintaining the air filters as well.

What’s the Best Way to Clean Air Filters?

The answer is: there is no good pathway to cleaning disposable air filters. Period. When air filters become so dirty that they can no longer trap dust, dirt, pollen, and other contaminants, the best thing to do is to replace the filter. Homeowners will often try to clean their disposable air filters and reuse them to save money rather than purchasing new ones. But this is a bad idea! They’ll try vacuuming the air filters to suck out the dirt and dust.


However, dust, pollen, and dirt get trapped deep within the air filter and a vacuum doesn’t have the power to reach the inner fibers of the filter. If these contaminants aren’t removed, they’ll continue to block air from passing through the filter causing the HVAC system to be less efficient. Many will try to clean the air filters with water, but water can actually encourage mold growth and spread the mold spores throughout the home.

Shaking the air filter is another common misconception; this won’t clean the air filter either. Instead, it can damage the integrity of the filter by loosening the density of the fibers. So to conclude, homeowners should save themselves the time and hassle of trying to clean disposable air filters and just replace them instead.

Getting a Proper Air Quality Upgrade


It’s best to consult a professional when looking to improve the home’s air quality. Upgrading air filters would be a good solution if the air filter is the main source of the air quality problem. However, the air filter is typically just one piece of the puzzle contributing to a home’s poor air quality.

It’s better to update all necessary components in the HVAC system to get a full air quality cleanse. Fixing just part of the problem will leave dust and other chemicals mixed into the air. Working with an HVAC professional can help determine the best course of action based on the specific challenges of the home’s air quality.

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