Air Filtration Systems: All You Need to Know

Posted on: April 10, 2020

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With the number of Americans who suffer from asthma and allergies reaching 50 million, the interest in purifying indoor air via various air filtration systems has experienced a sharp spike in recent years. However, there is a lot of misinformation and controversy surrounding air purifiers and filters online, causing confusion and uncertainty about their effectiveness.

That is why experienced professionals for air conditioner installation in Murrieta are here to share valuable information about air filtration and help you maintain high indoor air quality in your home or business. Read on!

How do air filtration systems work?

The air in your indoor space is home to a great number of allergens and pollutants, including pollen, mold spores, bacteria, pet dander, and smoke. These irritants are invisible to the naked eye and may cause harm to your immune system and lungs, especially if you already suffer from respiratory issues.

Air purifying systems are designed to filter some of these pollutants and allergens from the air by utilizing fine sieves. The efficiency of your air purifier will depend on the fineness of these sieves. Filters with higher efficiency can filter smaller particles, with High Efficiency Particulate Air or HEPA filters being the benchmark in the industry. HEPA filters can trap up to 99.97% of all airborne pollutants bigger than 0.3 microns.

How do you measure the efficiency of an air filter?

The efficiency of an air filter is indicated by its MERV rating. Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value is a measure of the filter’s effectiveness at trapping particulates. MERV ratings range from 1 to 16 where the higher numbers represent better efficiency.

While HEPA filters have MERV ratings that are even higher (typically ranging from 17 to 20), they aren’t practical for all uses. For instance, HEPA filters create a large pressure drop when used with central air conditioning systems, and filters with MERV ratings that range from 7-13 have proven to be nearly as effective at trapping allergens, but carry lower operating costs.

This is because filters with higher MERV ratings are typically made of dense materials, such as pleated cloth, and can also contain activated charcoal inserts to remove odors and fumes. These dense materials may interfere with the airflow of your AC, sometimes leading to blockages that might damage the system. That’s why it’s important to consult professional AC technicians when getting a new air filter.

What are the different types of air filters?

Purchasing the right air purifying technology can do wonders for improving the indoor air quality in your home. However, in order to pick the air filtration system that will fit your AC unit and meet your needs, you should be aware of the characteristics of different types of air filters.

Basic air cleaners

These filters are the most common in HVAC systems that work by trapping air pollutants as the air passes through the filter material. They need to be changed monthly or every two months to ensure optimal efficiency. Filters with lower MERV ratings are typically made of fiberglass, while higher efficiency filters are pleated or made of polyester.

HEPA filters

Although HEPA filters technically fall into the previous category, they are able to filter much finer particles thanks to their high efficiency. Not all AC systems are built to handle HEPA filters so make sure to check this before getting one for your home or business.

Ionizers, ozone generators, and electrostatic filters

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Ionic air filters and ozone generators produce charged ions or ozone. As airborne particles, neutrally charged, come into contact with these negatively charged ions or ozone, they take on the electrical charge and stick to different surfaces in the room and are removed from the air stream.

Similarly, electrostatic air filters work by charging airborne particles and trapping them on negative and positive charged plates. These plates are removable, as they should be cleaned or washed to ensure good performance of the filter. Electrostatic filters also produce ozone.

It’s important to note here that the filtration systems which produce ozone are typically used in commercial settings as ozone may present a problem for individuals suffering from respiratory diseases.

Activated carbon filters

Activated carbon is usually used as an addition to another air purification system. These filters are designed to remove gasses and odors from the air by trapping them in the carbon’s pores. They can absorb different types of chemicals and are effective at filtering cigarette smoke.

UV light filters

These filters use ultraviolet light technology to neutralize microbes, mold, and, if properly utilized, even viruses. Ultraviolet light damages the DNA of these organisms and stops their reproduction, preventing the spread of illnesses. They are often installed with another air filter to maximize the removal of airborne particles and the killing of bacteria and germs.

What is the best type of air filter for a home?

The air filtration system you choose for your home will depend mainly on your specific circumstances and the particulates you wish to filter. Here’s what different air filters are built to remove or reduce:

  • Dust: if you’re looking for an air filter that can remove or reduce the amount of dust in your home, even the filters with the lowest efficiency ratings (MERV 1-4) will do the work.
  • Mold, pollen, dust mites: individuals who suffer from allergies or other respiratory issues should look for filters with MERV ratings ranging from 5 to 8.
  • Volatile organic compounds: filters with MERV ratings from 8 to 16, as well as those with activated carbon inserts, can capture VOCs and odors in your home.
  • Bacteria: if you are particularly sensitive to bacteria or suffer from a chronic illness, you should look for hospital-grade filters with ratings ranging from 13 to 17.
  • Viruses: HEPA filters and UV light filters are effective against virus-sized particles. However, not all HVAC systems are built to handle HEPA filters.

The bottom line is that you should choose an air filtration system based on your individual needs and health concerns. By far the best way to determine the right filter for your home is to consult air quality professionals who will make sure that your air purification system meets your needs and fits your HVAC system without overwhelming it.

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Whether you need help choosing the right air filtration system for your home near Harveston Lake Park or want to learn how to increase the efficiency of your AC unit, the technicians at Action AC are the best experts for the job.

You can count on us to install, repair, maintain, and troubleshoot your air conditioning and air filtration systems using advanced equipment and methods. Our services also include detailed air duct cleaning, carbon monoxide detector installation, and dryer vent cleaning. Give us a call!