In a world where airborne pollutants are hard to avoid, homeowners are growing increasingly concerned about indoor air quality. Your Sarasota area home should be a place where your entire family can relax and feel safe, but if your family members are being bombarded with indoor allergens and pollutants, you will lose that feeling of safety. Whole-house air-cleaning systems can help you breathe free again, but before you invest in one, you should understand the four basic types.
HEPA Filters and Indoor Air Quality
High efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters are made from synthetic fibers that block tiny particles as they flow through the system. In lab settings, today’s HEPA filters trap 99.97 percent of particles what are 0.3 microns or larger in size.
In the average home, the true number of particles grabbed by a HEPA filter is about 80 percent. Keep in mind that HEPA filtration systems only remove particles, not gasses. Also, many biological pathogens are too small to be effectively trapped by these filters. For whole-house air cleaning, these filters need to be plumbed into your forced-air HVAC system by a skilled professional. With this setup, the air will be filtered whenever the home’s cooling or heating system is running. Stand-alone HEPA filtration systems are available to clean the air in a more limited part of your home.
Gas Phase Air Purifiers
Gases can degrade indoor air quality, and today’s homes are full of gases. Gas phase air purifiers remove gases and odors from the air, so the air smells clean and fresh, and the home’s occupants are not exposed to toxic gases.
Gas phase systems use a sorbent material, commonly activated carbon, to remove gases. They only work on the gases they are designed to target, and no system can remove all of the gaseous pollutants in a home. For example, there are no residential gas phase filters that will effectively remove potentially lethal carbon monoxide.
Gas phase systems only work on gaseous pollutants. They do not eliminate particles or any biological components in the home’s air. Because of this, they need to be used in conjunction with other air filtration strategies to make the home’s air truly clean.
Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation uses radiation from UV lamps to destroy organic pollutants in the air. This type of air purifier targets biological pollutants such as mold, viruses and bacteria. It does not trap microorganisms, but rather neutralizes and eventually destroys them.
Because UV irradiation systems do not actually trap particles, they should be used in tandem with an effective filtration system to ensure that all types of pollutants, both organic and non-organic, are targeted.
UV irradiation is so effective at removing these types of biological pathogens that the systems are regularly used in hospitals and labs where rooms need to be truly clean. However, it’s not a fool-proof system, and the microorganisms can only be destroyed if they come in contact with the filtration system. UV light systems are either installed in your ductwork to treat the air as it flows through your system, or positioned to shine directly on vulnerable HVAC components such as the indoor coil and condensate pan of your heat pump or A/C.
Electronic or electrostatic purifiers are incorporated into the home’s ductwork to purify the air throughout the home. When the air passes through the unit, a high-voltage current creates an electrical charge on the particles in the air stream. The unit then contains a charged collector plate that pulls those particles like a magnet. The particles are trapped on the plate and do not re-enter the home’s air.
Electronic purifiers are great for airborne particulates that are too small for media filters. This makes them an excellent addition to a home where indoor air quality is a concern.
Electronic purifiers do not have disposable parts, as air filters do. The electrostatic plates need to be cleaned every month or two, but they rarely need to be replaced. The main drawback to this type of unit is the fact that it can create a small amount of ozone when the particles are charged, and ozone is a lung irritant. This can somewhat counteract your indoor air quality goals.
As you can see, to truly purify the air in your home, you need a variety of systems. To learn more about purifying the air in your Sarasota or Bradenton area home, contact the HVAC and air quality professionals at Climatic Conditioning Co., Inc. to talk to an experienced home comfort specialist.
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