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After a global pandemic, one can’t help but think about the quality of air they keep in their own home. During the warm months, your air conditioner helps improve your indoor air quality by filtering the air before it is treated and pumped into your home. These air filters can filter out dust, allergens, and even smoke to prevent them from going into your home, but what about viruses?

In the case of COVID-19, it is transmitted through contact from the skin and close airborne contact when breathed out from the lungs. This makes it particularly difficult to filter out of the air. However, it is not just COVID-19 that air conditioner filters will struggle with; all virus particles are just simply too small to be reliably caught by an air conditioning filter. This is perhaps because people think the air conditioning filter is specifically meant to improve their air quality in the home. In truth, the filter is actually meant to protect the appliance. Dust and other contaminants can build up in the appliance, the ducts, and effect overall performance. The air filter keeps that from happening and produces cleaner air as a byproduct. Small virus particles aren’t really a threat to the appliance and an air filter thick enough to catch them would greatly diminish air flow and efficiency, so it just can’t be done.

While there are other ways of removing viruses from the air, they are not really available or reliable on a residential level. They are designed for sterile rooms and large facilities. Trying to add them to your home would be a huge expense. Unfortunately for now, the best way to stay safe is to adhere to CDC guidelines for specific viruses. If you are using an air filter in your air conditioner and changing it as needed, your air is as clean as it can get.