IAQ: Air Filtration vs. Air Cleaning

Several ways exist to improve your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) that include air filtration and air cleaning. Both work with your heating and cooling system, but there, the similarities end. Filtering the air removes solid particles, while cleaning it deactivates the harmful gases and sometimes solids in the air.

Air Filters

If you have a forced-air HVAC system, it uses an air filter to trap dust and other airborne contaminants like pollen, pet dander and mold spores. The densest filters will trap viruses and bacteria.

You can tell how effective the filters you use are at trapping different size particulates by looking for their MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) ratings. The scale runs from 1 to 16 and higher numbers indicate the filter traps smaller particles.

Not all HVAC systems can use high MERV-rated filters because they may block the airflow too much. Inadequate airflow drives up energy consumption and may cause mechanical problems with the system.

Air Cleaners

Unlike filters, air cleaners act more like disinfectants. The most common types to use with HVAC systems are UV (ultraviolet) lights placed inside the air handler or the ductwork. UV light alters the DNA of organic gases, including VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and particles that pass by it.

Using Both to Boost IAQ

It’s possible to use both air filtration and air cleaning to achieve high IAQ. The owner’s manual for your HVAC system should state the highest MERV-rated filter you should use with your system, or your HVAC contractor can look it up for you. Using a denser filter will trap smaller particles, which could reduce the severity of allergies and asthma and even trap some of the larger viruses and bacteria.

UV lights installed in the air handler and ductwork will prevent mold and bacterial growth on the evaporator coil and reduce the toxicity of VOCs and reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

You can put air filtration and cleaning to use with your HVAC system to achieve better IAQ. For more information, contact Jackson &Sons, providing HVAC services for eastern North Carolina homeowners.

Jackson & Sons, Inc.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Eastern North Carolina (including Wayne, Johnston, Greene, Lenoir, Pitt and Duplin Counties) about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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