There are a couple of big factors to consider when you’re trying to make your home an ideally comfortable place to be. Temperature is of course a big one, and that’s controllably mostly through your air conditioner and heater. Things like windows and drapes and ceiling fans can make an impact there but for the most part the temperature in your home is controllable through your HVAC system. But there are other factors that come into play when it comes to home comfort. There are two other big ones and they both deal with the air in your home, humidity and purity.
Today’s tip of the day will be focused on air purity, otherwise known as your indoor air quality. The air filter in your HVAC system does some good when it comes to cleaning the air you breathe but many people find this to be insufficient. This tip of the day is for those people. We’re going to take a look at whole home air filtration systems and what they do. We’ll investigate their benefits and drawbacks and take a look at the various kinds of air filters and why they might be right for you.
Why Worry About Indoor Air Quality
Unlike the temperature in our homes, indoor air quality isn’t something that most of us think about on a daily basis. The subtle effects of impurities in the air aren’t something on most of our minds but they do affect us regardless. It’s the kind of thing that only shows its effects over long periods of time and in little things you may not recognize are related to air quality like how often you get allergies or colds. We think of pollution as something that affects cities at large but not on the small scale of our home.
But when it comes to air pollution, there's no place like home. Today's tighter houses keep the weather outside, but they also keep contaminants inside. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air indoors where we spend as much as 90 percent of our time can be more polluted than even city smog. And dirt you can see is just the beginning. That dust collecting on end tables and bookshelves is only a fraction of what's actually swimming around in the air: an invisible mix of dust mites, pollen, dander, mold, and smoke that can be annoying to breathe and hazardous to your health.
The first line of defense against airborne contaminants is to keep a house clean and well ventilated. That plus the air filters in your home that work with your air conditioner and furnace do some work towards making your house cleaner. But for some sensitive people that may not be enough. The ventilation method may be limited by weather conditions or undesirable levels of contaminants contained in outdoor air. If these measures are insufficient, an air cleaning device may be useful. Air cleaning devices are intended to remove pollutants from indoor air. That's where air filters come in. Household air filters are available in two basic types: media filters, which create a physical barrier that traps minute particles, and electronic filters, which use a high-voltage charge to attract and capture contaminants. A few air filters are hybrids that combine both methods, and some include activated carbon elements to combat odor.
Having pets gives you all the more reason to consider stepping up your air purifying game. Pets share our homes every day and bring with them pet odors, urine stains, and skin dander. For family members who have allergies, these odors can be upsetting and cause respiratory distress, which may result in a visit to the hospital with expensive and prolonged treatment. Vacuuming isn’t enough to remove all these pollutants daily. Having a cat in your bed or lounge can result in skin dander being left in the bed linen and the lounge fabric and dogs bring into the home odors and germs from outdoors into the house on a daily basis. A whole home air filtration system is the best weapon against these unfortunate side effects of having these furry beloved house hold members.
How Do Filtration Systems Work?
We’re going to look at a couple of different kinds of filtration systems here. First let’s look at one that plugs right into your current HVAC system as it is, air filters. If you have an air conditioner and/or a furnace you should already know about the most basic version of these devices. They need to be replaced every few months and they filter contaminants out of the air protecting you and your HVAC units from their harmful effects. But there exists more advanced air filters that do this to a bigger degree.
The most efficient way to filter household air is through your home's forced-air heating or central air-conditioning system. The filters are built into the return-air ductwork, trapping particles as air passes through. Such systems are passive; as long as the fan is running, they are constantly filtering all the air in your house. Whole-house filters come in four main types.
All but the first of these types should be installed by a professional as they go directly into the ductwork of your home. The first type of air filter is the kind you know already, that the flat filter, that matted-fiberglass filters that should be changed once a month. When it clogs with dust, it stops working and overworks the furnace. In fact, those filters are designed to protect your furnace from large particles of dust, and while they might keep surfaces in your house a bit cleaner, they won't block the microscopic particles that are most irritating to lung tissue. Pleated filters, which pack more material in the same amount of space, cost a few bucks more and do a slightly better job. By far the best pleated filters are electrostatically charged to attract allergens like pollen and pet dander. They cost around $15 and should be changed every two to three months.
The next type of filter is the extended media filter. Picture a stack of furnace filters about 8 inches thick and you get the idea of an extended media filter. These boxy units contain an accordion like pile of filtration media, which makes them more effective than regular fiberglass filters. They require professional installation because the large filter holder must be plumbed into the ductwork.
Then you get a little more advanced when you move on to the next type, the electronic filter. These high-tech units, sometimes called electrostatic precipitators, are also incorporated into the ductwork. As air passes through, a high-voltage current puts an electrical charge on particles. At the other end of the unit, oppositely charged collector plates grab the particles like a magnet. Electronic filters work especially well on smoke particles too small to be trapped in media filters.
Finally you have the ultraviolet filter, the most advanced of the four. People worried primarily about germs can consider an ultraviolet filter. Typically, UV filters are built-in components, sold as add-ons to a whole-house electronic precipitator (as in, add on $400 to $800). The ultraviolet light zaps airborne bacteria and viruses into oblivion, which is why hospitals use UV air filters in tuberculosis wards. Of course, the bug has to reach the filter before it can be zapped; if someone sneezes in your face, UV technology won't help.
The Benefits of Advanced Air Filtration Systems
There are many reasons one might consider looking into one of the types of advanced air filters mentioned above. Of course one of the main drawbacks is that they all cost money but for many this is an investment worth putting forth. Whole-home air-cleaning systems are increasingly popular and can be incorporated into almost any HVAC system, whether a new build or a retrofit, and are available in various sizes, types and price ranges.
Of course the biggest benefit of improving the filtration of your air in your home is better air quality. An air filtration center helps clean indoor air, which is vital if someone in your family has asthma or another lung disease. The American Lung Association provides extensive information on some of the most common sources of indoor air pollution and additional tips on how to prevent them. A good air filtration system is a part of that strategy.
For allergy sufferers, this can be indispensable. An allergen is any substance that causes an allergic reaction. The most common indoor allergens are dust mites, mold and pet dander. A mechanical air filter forces air through a mesh that traps these allergens, meaning they never enter your living space.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether you could benefit from a whole home filtration system and what kind would be right for your needs and your house.
Home Air Filtration and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin
The quality of the air in your home is important. It affects your life and your health in sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic ways. Take control of the air quality in your home with a whole home air filtration system. Whether you decide on an extended media filter, an electronic filtration system that attaches to your air conditioner, or something even more advanced like an ultraviolet filtration system, you’ll find a lot benefits await when you upgrade your home’s filtration.
And remember to take care of the rest of your HVAC system as well. Scheduling regular maintenance checks for your Austin air conditioning system is important if you want it to provide you with cool air reliably for many years to come. AC Express is an Austin AC repair company that operates throughout the area, from Buda and Kyle to Lago Vista and Lakeway. If you need any kind of AC repair in Austin or any help with your heating and cooling systems, don’t hesitate. Call today for excellent same day AC repair!