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What Are the Best Air Filters for Allergies?

What Are the Best Air Filters for Allergies?

Find out who wins between flat-panels, pleats and whole-house

If you’re sniffling and sneezing your way through allergy season, adding the right air filter to your HVAC system can help improve your home’s air quality and ease your allergy symptoms. But deciding which filter to choose can be just as tricky as finding the right allergy medicine. Here’s what you need to know before you go shopping.

Traditional Fiberglass Filters

These are the flat-panel filters that have been around for years. They don’t look fancy, but they’re affordable and won’t restrict airflow in your HVAC system as much as the others. However, they’re not great at trapping allergens. These filters will capture less than 10% of the pollutants in your home. But if you’re allergies aren’t terrible, it’s a small investment to give these a try first.

Pleated Fiberglass Filter

The pleated filters have a lot more surface area and will filter 45% of allergens in your home — including pollen, dust mites and pet dander. You can even find electrostatic filters made with electrically charged materials that are great at attracting particles. The downside is they’re a little bit more expensive and can restrict airflow in your HVAC system. This means your system will have to work harder and it’ll be hard to save money on energy costs during allergy season. But test one out and see if the thicker filter changes the way your heating and cooling system works.

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters

These filters are so good that they remove up to 98% of pollutants in the air, but they’re also so thick that they require an extra fan to push air through the filter. That’s why HEPA filters have to be incorporated into a whole-house filtration system, like the Trane CleanEffects™ Air Cleaner. Filtration systems like this can trap particles down to .1 micron in size. And while these filters have the highest cost, they also the biggest impact on improving allergy symptoms.

Before you make your final decision, compare the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of common filter types. You may pay a little more for a higher CADR, but your sinuses will thank you.

Finally, keep in mind that an air filter is just one part of your allergy battle plan. You’ll have a better chance of wiping out allergies if you use multiple tactics. Try adding some of these simple tips into your routine.

  • Keep pets off of furniture and out of bedrooms. If your pets are outside often, allergens will stick to their fur and they’ll bring those particles indoors with them.
  • Shower before you go to bed to remove any allergens that are on your hair and skin.
  • Wash clothing and linens with super hot water to banish dust mites.
  • Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. A fast way to reduce sniffle-inducing dust and allergens is to vacuum once a day.
  • Keep your windows closed and limit your time outdoors to reduce exposure to pollen and outdoor allergens.
  • Change your air filter once a month
  • Consider a whole-house filtration system for a more robust approach to stopping allergy attacks.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Every allergy sufferer and HVAC system is unique, so you’ll need to see how different filters affect your allergy symptoms and your heating and cooling system’s operation. A little trial and error will help you find the perfect filter for your home (and your nose).

Improve the Air Quality in Your Home

Improve the Air Quality in Your Home

There's more in your indoor air than you can easily see - dust, smoke, pet dander, lint, pollen and other particles.


Even though you can’t see these particles, they could be negatively affecting your health.

All of these particles in your air are potential triggers for asthma and allergy attacks. Dust, smoke and bacteria are often .3 microns or less. At that size, allergens can get deep into your lungs because they aren’t filtered well by your nose and throat.


Follow these tips to manage allergy and asthma triggers in your home:

    • Control dust mites: Use anti-dust mite covers and wash your sheets in hot water at least once a week.


    • Stay smoke-free: Avoid non-ventilated, smoky rooms and second-hand smoke.


    • Avoid pet dander: Keep pets off the furniture, out of the bedroom, and if necessary, consider taking the pet out of the home.


    • Close doors and windows: Keeping windows and doors shut helps reduce the amount of outdoor pollens, allergens and irritants inside your home.


  • Install a whole-house air cleaner: Add an air cleaning system, can help remove airborne particles and allergens too small for your nose and mouth to filter naturally.

How do whole-home air cleaners work to improve indoor air quality?

Step 1

First, the pre-filter traps the large particles that the air in your home circulates through your heating or cooling system.

Step 2

Next, it charges the smaller particles. Since the air passes through many small electrical fields, rather than over a single charged metal wire or plate, more airborne contaminants are collected than in traditional electronic air cleaner systems.

Step 3

Finally, it collects the smallest particles. With each layer of collection elements only .08 inches apart, an air cleaner can trap particles down to .1 micron in size.

To learn more about installing a whole-house air cleaner and improving the air quality in your home, contact a Trane Comfort Specialist™ today.

Why You Should Monitor the Humidity Levels In Your Home

Why You Should Monitor the Humidity Levels In Your Home

Maintaining good air quality in your home is important for the health of your entire family.

Either too much or too little humidity can lead to the rise of unhealthy airborne particulates. The EPA recommends keeping relative humidity inside between 30% and 50%. You can check the levels in your home with a digital humidity meter, or hygrometer, which you can find at most hardware stores.

Water condensation on inside window

What happens if you have too much indoor humidity?

You can tell if your indoor air is too humid if you notice:

    • Condensation on windows
    • Water stains on your fabrics or hardwood floors
    • Stale or musty smells in the furniture or carpet
  • Mold in the bathrooms, basement or under the sink

Molds produce allergens, irritants and sometimes potentially toxic substances. Mildew and dust also thrive in humidity.

Open windows whenever you’re cooking or running the dishwasher to alleviate high levels of humidity. Exhaust fans in your kitchen or bathroom can also help. The easiest way to combat high humidity levels is to turn on your central air conditioner. If that’s still not enough, you might need to invest in a dehumidifier to dry the air.

Explore the types of dehumidifiers

A dehumidifier’s drying capacity is measured by how many pints of water it can remove from the air within 24 hours. You may only need a small dehumidifier to control the moisture in one room or a small apartment. These are relatively inexpensive.

Most portable, single-room dehumidifiers are self-draining and come with a drain-hose connection. You’ll need to place it in an area where the hose can empty water, such as a laundry room sink. Dehumidifiers with large tubs or drip pans can hold more and will need to be emptied less often. Some dehumidifiers use evaporation technology, so a drain hose isn’t required. Another option is installing a whole-home dehumidifier. These connect to your existing ductwork and must be professionally installed.

Design tips to reduce humidity in your home

investing in a home dehumidifier for your new or existing Trane system is one option, but there are also simple design tricks you can use to help reduce your home’s humidity levels. If you’re in the process of redesigning or redecorating your bathroom, consider using mildew-resistant paint and primer. Even if you only use this paint for the lower parts of the walls, it can cover old mildew stains and prevent new spots from developing. You can also swap bathroom rugs for tile floors to prevent mold and mildew from building up.

Add indoor plants to decrease indoor humidity and make your home feel inviting. A peace lily can absorb humidity and toxins through its leaves. Peace lilies only need indirect sunlight to grow, making them ideal houseplants. If you’re looking for a plant that can be hung, the English ivy might be the perfect fit. When they’re hung up high, they absorb the humidity rising in the air, and you don’t have to worry about knocking them over.

A few simple updates can make a big difference when it comes to the quality of your indoor air. Which tips will work best in your home?

Do Air Purifiers Help Allergies and Asthma?

Do Air Purifiers Help Allergies and Asthma?

Learn how they work and what to shop for

Most experts agree that YES, air purifiers can help allergies and asthma. But the level of effectiveness depends on the air purifier you buy. Here are some tips to help you comparison shop and find the right air purifier for your home.

How Air Purifiers Work

An air cleaner’s main job is to filter out allergens and particles that can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. These devices scrub indoor air so it’s free of pollen, dust, mold spores and other particles. Some of these irritants are microscopic, so it’s best to have an air purifier that can handle the tiniest of particles. HEPA filtration is a solid choice for asthmatics because HEPA filters typically remove 98% of pollutants in the air, even ones as small as 0.3 microns.

Air purifiers are great at improving air quality and helping control environmental allergies. The one drawback is that portable air purifiers can only attract airborne particles that are near the device. Which means if your allergy or asthma is severe, you may need to place air purifiers in multiple rooms. An alternative to a portable air cleaner is a whole-home filtration system like the Trane CleanEffects™ Air Cleaner which improves the air quality in your entire home, removes up to 99.98% of airborne irritants and can trap particles down to 0.1 micron in size.

Keep in mind that air purifiers shouldn’t be your only defense against irritating particles. You should take other measures to reduce allergens in your home — like vacuuming daily, keeping windows closed and washing clothes and bedding in hot water.

What to Consider When Shopping for an Air Purifier

When you’re looking for the ideal air purifier for your home, there are several factors to weigh. We recommend you check out product labels to better understand the device’s specifications and read air purifier reviews to find out how the unit rated with testers. Here’s an overview of what to look for:

SIZE: Make sure the air purifier you’re interested in works for your room size. The device’s clean air delivery rate (CADR) should give you an indication of whether or not it can handle your space. CADR measures the cubic feet per minute of clean air delivered and the higher the value, the cleaner the air. If you’re trying to improve air quality in large rooms, look for a higher CADR.

NOISE: Top quality air purifiers have a series of filters that capture particles and return clean air back into the room — which inevitably creates some level of noise. Depending on the model and setting of your unit, sounds can range from a quiet hum to a loud whoosh. If noise is an issue for you, try getting a larger unit — it’ll be effective, efficient and quieter at a lower speed.

FILTER: When you’re thinking about air filters for allergies and asthma, ask these questions:

    • What type of filter is it?


    • How easy is it to change the filter?


    • How often do you have to change it?


  • How much do the filters cost?

If possible, get someone to demonstrate replacing the filter so you can see if it’s difficult. Pro tip — look for YouTube videos! Also, do a quick online search to see how much replacement filters cost for that device.

COST: This factor includes the price of the device AND the cost for the electricity to run it. A good air purifier can be pricey — ranging from $50 to $1000. And if you need multiple devices to clean the air in several rooms, it can get expensive. Plus, the more units you have, the more energy you’ll use.

Before you buy, do a little math to estimate how the unit will impact your electric bill. For example, most HEPA purifiers use 30-250 watts per hour. If you use the purifier 24 hours a day for a year, you’ll pay roughly $39 to $328 annually, using a baseline rate of $0.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

OZONE OUTPUT: Be aware that some air purifiers output ozone, which can make asthma worse. It’s important for asthma sufferers to read the product information and look for no or low ozone. The Molekule air purifier has a unique air cleaning process that actually destroys ozone and other contaminants, so this might be a good option to investigate.

AHAM VERIFICATION: You may not have heard of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), but they’ve been keeping an eye on appliance standards since 1967. They verify air cleaners based on the unit’s recommended room size and the CADR rates that are listed on the product packaging. Before you shop, definitely check out their list of AHAM-approved air cleaners.

So, to answer your question — if you have asthma or allergies, adding an air purifier to your clean air routine can be a smart move to ease your symptoms. Searching for the perfect air purifier may seem daunting, but doing your homework will make your sinuses, lungs and wallet very happy.

Does your air conditioner smell? Here’s what it means

Does your air conditioner smell? Here’s what it means

First time using your air conditioner? Find out what odors are normal and when to get expert help.

A musty smell from your air conditioner is normal the first few times you use it each season. However, you shouldn’t ignore it. Some odors are common and some may be a symptom of a more serious problem.

Young man smells something bad and holds his nose
Shutterstock: Andrey_Popov

Dirty sock syndrome (yes this is a thing)

WHAT IT IS: Dirty sock syndrome is that moldy odor you get when you turn on your air conditioner for the first time of the season. As the name suggests, the smell is musty – not unlike a gym locker room – which is how we got the name Dirty Sock Syndrome. After a long period of time without use, mold and bacteria can build up on your evaporator coil or other areas of your HVAC system.

WHAT TO DO: If the smell lingers after repeated use we recommend having your evaporator coil cleaned by a professional. Especially for asthma and allergy sufferers, the mold spores and bacteria that is circulated in the air can cause problems. Other steps you can take include:

  • Check your filters
  • Clean the drain pan
  • Check your ductwork

IS IT DANGEROUS?: Generally no. It’s also possible that the smell is not related to mold – and even if it is, most molds are not dangerous in most cases. It is however annoying and embarrassing and not something you want to let linger throughout the cooling season.


Electrical burning smell

WHAT IT IS: :A burning electrical smell could mean you have a problem with the fan or compressor motor.

WHAT TO DO: Get help. An electrical burning smell could be a sign of a serious problem.

Schedule seasonal maintenance

The best way to get the most out of your air conditioner (and avoid unwanted odors and issues) is to have a Trane Comfort Specialist™ inspect and service your heating and cooling system regularly. We recommended:

  • Air Conditioner – Service once a year. Schedule in spring before hot weather arrives.
  • Furnace or heat pump – Service once a year. Schedule in the late summer or fall before cold weather arrives.
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