Air Filters vs. Air Cleaners
Our highly climate-controlled indoor environments can often be extremely comfortable in our modern world. Combine that with the fact so many of our daily needs are easily met without needing to go outside, and you find a society that spends nearly all its time indoors. As a result, poor indoor air quality has become a significant area of concern as a contributor to potential health problems.
Our team at West Mechanical, along with many manufacturers of air filtration and air purification products, are working to provide tools to help you ensure clean indoor air for you and your family. Here are some details about currently available solutions.
Air filters are typically a part of your Bellingham home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Before circulating air enters your furnace or air conditioner to be heated or cooled, it passes through a filter to trap and remove a wide range of particulates.
Many different types of air filters are available, ranging from very basic and inexpensive to more costly versions that filter out microscopic particles.
An industry-wide rating system promoted by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) helps consumers compare one type of filter to another in terms of performance. A minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating system measures a filter’s ability to remove particles from the air. Filters carry a rating somewhere between 1 and 16, with the higher values signaling finer filtration.
Air filters can be made of many different types of materials. You may have used a layered fiberglass filter that’s surrounded by a metal grate or a pleated polyester filter in a cardboard frame. These filters typically need to be replaced every one to three months.
Homeowners living in Washington who have family members with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory illnesses may want to consider using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. These filters capture 99.97 percent of all particles 0.3 microns or larger. The National Air Filtration Association (NAFA) specifies six different levels of HEPA filters.
Air cleaners are often used in conjunction with HVAC-related air filters. These are usually separate appliances typically designed for a single room or a certain square footage of space. A wide variety of different technologies and systems are available, and each one usually focuses on a particular set of particles.
For example, home ultraviolet (UV) air cleaners were developed from purifiers used in hospitals for disinfecting the air. These tackle bacteria, viruses, mold, and other pathogens. On the other hand, activated carbon filters are very effective in removing gasses, odors, smoke, and other particles.
HEPA air purifiers work in a similar way to HEPA filters and remove dust, pet dander, pollen, and mold spores from your indoor air. Although HEPA air purifiers are effective at filtering out very small particles, they are unable to remove bacteria and viruses.
Another type of air purification technology is using ions. These purifiers emit negative ions into your living space, which attract positive ions like dust. The resulting particles become heavier and land on your home’s flooring or other surfaces to be collected during vacuuming and dusting chores. Remember to use a HEPA vacuum bag to maximize the capturing of the resulting particles.
Although all of these air purification systems typically work in a single area or confined space, you can invest in house-wide purification systems as well. For instance, electronic air cleaners work with your HVAC system by employing static electricity, HEPA filters, and ionic cleaners in a single system. Centralized air cleaners can be installed as part of your ductwork and can complement your HVAC filtration system, and air-to-air exchange systems will allow you to pull in more fresh air from outside.
Contact Us for Clean Indoor Air
At West Mechanical here in Bellingham, WA, our professionals can provide more details about air filters and air purification systems. Our trained team can help you choose an air treatment system that can meet the needs of you and your family. Call us at 360-734-7599 or request service online today.