With the approach of winter most of us start to button up the house and, hopefully, in most cases, start to think about their heating system. Maybe you’re going to change your air filter or possibly get a professional tune up of your system.
There are many reasons to do these things. First of all, it will help your system run optimally and efficiently. Secondly, it will help to preserve the unit’s lifespan and reduce maintenance costs. And lastly, help remove the bad stuff from the air we breathe in our homes.
It is widely recognized that Indoor air quality is approximately 2 to 5 times more polluted than the outside air. This makes indoor air quality a subject that should be taken seriously.
To try to simplify IAQ (indoor air quality), there are two different areas that it can be broken into, Air Filtration and Air Purification.
Air filtration is the most common. A typical home that has forced air heating and cooling system blows conditioned air through the ductwork and out air vents located throughout the home. In addition, they have return ducts that take air from the home back to HVAC unit. All these systems have some sort of air filter, whether it is a cheap disposable unit you buy at the hardware store, or more efficient/expensive media style electronic air filter.
The primary purpose of any filter is to keep your HVAC unit cleaner internally, therefore maximizing its efficiency, and, in the process, reduce airborne particulate - ex. dust, dander, pollen etc from being recirculated throughout the home.
BEWARE - No matter how efficient the filtration or regardless of the cost to install, these units will only clean what is brought back to the system through the duct return system.
Air Purification Methods
Air purification systems, on the other hand, are designed for a different purpose with different results. Most common among these is the UV Light (Ultra Violet). Installed in the system ductwork, these units can be very effective at killing bacteria, molds and fungus, but will only destroy these organisms when in very close contact to the UV light for a determined amount of time.
One alternative to the standard UV light are units that use advanced oxidation technology (Photohydroionization). This utilizes a type of UV light technology to produce “friendly oxidizers” (Hydroperoxides) that travel through the air ducts to kill or reduce microbes and gases in the conditioned space. The best analogy to describe the difference is a mouse trap verses a cat: one waits for the mouse the other goes out and hunts for it.
The latest UV air purifiers that use this technology literally go throughout your home and ‘hunt down’ the bacteria, mold and fungus that can be making your family sick.
It’s difficult to describe in this short blog all of the different products on the market today but, what I can provide you is my personal and professional preference for indoor air quality. On typical forced air heating and cooling systems I recommend a media style air filter with a high Merv rating (this measures the filters effectiveness, the higher the number the higher the efficiency). In addition to this filter, I would add a unit that utilizes photohydroionization to proactively kill microbes and purify the air in my entire home while keeping my ductwork free of these microorganisms.