- Air Filtration
- Air Treatment Systems
- Carbon Monoxide
Sneezing, wheezing and allergies got you down? Is the air in your home making you sick? What type of air filtration do you have?
Each cubic foot of air that we breathe in our homes can contain as many a 30 million dust and pollutant particles. Most particles are so microscopic that only about 15% of the airborne particulate is trapped leaving 85% to get re-circulated throughout the home, or get trapped in the furnace and air conditioning coils.
Studies have shown that air quality is often worse inside than outside. Particulates can include pollen, plant spores, viruses, and skin flakes. Smoke particles can contain cooking grease, tobacco smoke, carbon, various types of dust and atmospheric particles.
Homeowners spend up to 90% of their time indoors. With this increased time being spent indoors and higher efficient equipment being installed, it is essential that homeowners maintain good air quality for not only health and comfort but also to maintain equipment efficiency.
Couple indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns of homeowners and their family's health, along with the array of new products available, homeowners will have to do some research before spending what could be a significant amount of money. Also, beware of those who make sweeping claims about all the health benefits of their particular product. Recently there have been and will continue to be technological advancements in the area of air filtration. Air filters come in many different types; sizes and price range and vary in efficiency from 3% to 99.97%.
To make it easier for consumers to know how efficient (effective) a filter is at removing a particular size of particle a new and better Industry accepted standard known as Minimum Effectiveness Reporting Value (MERV) has been established.
Understanding the Value of Air Filtration
Can homeowners make educated choices and conduct better comparisons using the MERV standard? Yes and No. It's not that simple. Yes homeowners will know the true efficiency of a filter but what they still will not be able to determine is life-cycle costs that go beyond the initial price of the filter and include the costs of energy, filter cartridge(s) and the negative effect on system performance and equipment, I.E. failed motors, cracked heat exchangers and longer cooling cycles. Let's look at a study that compared two MERV 14 filters.
|Efficiency/Effectiveness||MERV 14||MERV 14|
|Filter Style|| 12-inch deep
|12-inch deep rigid|
|Media Surface Area||120 sq. ft.||120 sq. ft.|
|Initial ¢P||0.045-inch wg||0.65-inch wg|
|Final ¢P||1.50-inch wg||1.50-inch wg|
|Filter Life||12 months||12 months|
Looking at these two filters the only differences are in the initial pressure drop and the energy cost. This is the key critical area that most homeowners fail to take into consideration and where many contractors fail to provide sound advice in fear of not get a sale. Given this information its not likely that homeowners would turn down a 10% or $29.00/yr energy savings.
Always remember the more restrictive an air filter is to airflow, the higher the pressure drop, and the higher the cost of energy to move that air through that filter. This is simply wasted energy and, does not even take into account the additional negative impacts on the equipment mentioned earlier.
Many homeowners purchase MERV 6 pleated filters 1-inch thick or better from their local hardware store. So, when faced with someone recommending the same MERV 6 filter, thicker and costing more, it's likely without added knowledge they will turn down the filter upgrade option.
Without the added knowledge of the relationship of pressure drop to energy use, costly mistakes like this are made everyday. MERV 6 pleated filters 1-inch thick can have pressure drops of well over 1-inch wg after just 30 days of being installed, reduce system performance and even result in premature equipment failure.
Let's look at a breakdown of two filters and their costs used in this same study (Table 2)
| Initial Price Percentage
|Energy Cost Percentage of Total|
| MERV 6-11
1” Pleated Filter
| MERV 11-15 Rigid
4-5” Box Filter
Homeowners should not look at "value" as being a buzzword because while price will always be a consideration, it's important to understand that price only encompasses the initial cash outlay for acquiring a filter or product. Indeed price is only one component of the bigger cost picture.
Reflecting back to the concept that price is a component of total cost, consider what an HVAC filter costs to operate. Studies have shown that investment and maintenance account for about 18.5% of the cost to operate a filter while the energy accounts for about 81% the numbers in Table 2 show the breakdown for two types, verifying that energy provides the biggest opportunity for cost savings.
- Standard (panel/fiberglass) Filters
- Media (pleated) Filters
- Self-Charging (static electricity) Filters
- Charged Media (dielectric) Filters
- Turbulent Flow Precipitators (TFP) Filters
- Electronic Air Filters
- High Efficiency Particulate Accumulator (HEPA) Filters
Table E-1 (ASHRAE 52.2-1999) Application Guidelines
What is most important, regardless of the type of filtration system you have, follow the Manufacturer's recommendations and clean (wash) or replace the filters as required. Have your ductwork cleaned every 3-5 years and the appliances cleaned annually. According to Custom Vac, technicians often find furnace filters and air conditioning coils plugged solid resulting in 15-25 % loss in efficiency.
For consumers who do not have ducted systems such as those heated with steam, hot water, baseboard electric or radiant panels, we have ductless air conditioning systems and self-contained portable HEPA filters to provide you with excellent indoor air quality.
A survey conducted by Honeywell indicated there are an estimated 41 million allergy sufferers. With all the products on the market today there is no need to suffer the affects of poor indoor air or become part of this statistic. Custom Vac can offer the solutions to improve your health and home environment so it becomes one you and your family want to come home too.
|Canadian Lung Association|