With Americans spending more and more time indoors, having the kind of clean, breathable air that comes from whole-house air filtration and air cleaning is important to staying healthy. But given the number of options on the market, which system will work best for your Tampa area home? We’ll go over four different types of whole-house air filtration and air cleaning and describe how they function and their benefits.
Central furnaces and air conditioners already contribute to whole-house air filtration. As they circulate heated or cooled air, they force it through a thin filter. This is the filter that HVAC experts suggest you check monthly and change as dirt accumulates on it. This mat of fibers acts somewhat like a sieve, straining airborne particulates out of the air. Higher-efficiency filters have more densely-packed fibers, which allows them to catch smaller and smaller particles. Eventually, though, the airborne particles build up and clog the filter, meaning that the fan on your furnace or A/C has to work harder to push air through.
While these filters are the first line of defense in many homes, they’re not perfect. For one thing, their maximum efficiency is tied to the power of the system’s fan. If a furnace can’t handle filters with a MERV rating higher than 10, using a high efficiency filter will do more harm than good. For another, their primary role is to keep dust out of your HVAC system where it can clog things up.
Extended Media Filters
Extended media filters scale up the operation of flat filters by layering them, offering more opportunity for airborne particulates to be caught and removed from circulating air. This means that not only do these work on the laws of probability—particles which manage to pass through one layer by chance are still likely to get caught on other layers—but the way in which filters interrupt air flow makes for a more turbulent passage through each layer, which increases the chance any particle will impact a fiber and be caught.
Since most home HVAC systems aren’t designed with extended media filters in mind, professional installation is a must. Since extended media filters need to be replaced far less frequently (about once a year) and cost only marginally more than flat filters, they also provide savings when it comes to whole-house air filtration and air cleaning.
Electronic Air Cleaning
Also known as electrostatic precipitators, these filters use a electrical charge to clean your air. Just as static electricity on a balloon can disrupt dust on a flat surface, the high-voltage current running through these systems causes particles to become charged. As they pass through the filter, a metal plate with the opposite charge catches them and pulls them out of the air.
Because these filters aren’t dependent on particle size or flight path, they can work effectively against pollutants such as smoke, which are too small to be caught by most flat filter types. They also never need to be replaced, just cleaned every few months with warm, soapy water.
However, these filters do require professional installation, a 120-volt electrical outlet and a fairly significant cost outlay up front.
Ultraviolet (UV) Air Cleaners
Aimed more at organic pollutants like mold, fungus and bacteria, ultraviolet air purifiers are often installed as add-ons to an electrostatic system. This option provides a real benefit to a whole-house air filtration and air cleaning system, because it can specifically target these small, living things.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the part of sunlight which causes damage to skin cells in the form of sunburns and even skin cancer, and its effects on microscopic organisms is dramatic. In fact, it’s one of the technologies used in hospital environments, which require rigorous contaminant filtration.
It’s useful to remember, however, that UV lights in your HVAC system can only clean the air circulating through your home and isn’t a one-stop solution to keeping your home mold-, bacteria-, or fungus-free. Proper home sealing and humidity controls should also be employed.
To learn more about whole-house air quality control and the wide range of portable air purifiers for trouble spots in your Tampa home, contact the home comfort pros at Senica Air Conditioning, Inc..
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