Should I buy an Electrostatic Filter?
In 1965, Building Code Standards required new homes to be insulated and residential homes became much “tighter.” Insulation and sealants allowed less outside air to enter the home by design. This decreased residential energy use and increased comfort, but with less fresh air coming in through every nook and cranny, inside air is recirculating more frequently.
While the conditioned air stays inside, potentially hazardous contaminants, such as dust, allergens, and mold get trapped inside. According to the EPA, “Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the area.” New building material, carpet, and furniture also give off gases that will remain trapped. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/introduction-indoor-air-quality
Improving Indoor Air Quality
While indoor air quality (IAQ) is concerning, there is plenty that you can do about making sure the air you breathe is as clean as possible. If you have asthma, allergies, or other respiratory illness, making indoor air as clean as possible is extremely important. Improving IAQ will reduce asthma flare-ups and allergy symptoms and keep you breathing easy. Removing all air-borne contaminants is impossible, but here are some simple steps to reduce the most harmful particles.
Keep your house clean.
A clean house can greatly cut down on dust, pollen, and animal dander. If someone in your home suffers from asthma or allergies, make sure you:
IAQ and Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19)
For the first time in your lifetime, the world experienced a global pandemic that kept families at home and caused concerns about IAQ. This is a new virus and research is still being completed, so much is still unknown about the spread and treatment of this disease.
HVAC manufacturers have been testing how effective filters are at protecting people from contracting the virus. The CDC is recommending enhanced air filters and air purifiers to improve IAQ and combat Covid-19, especially with folks that have respiratory illnesses.
First, remember that no filter or purifier can protect from every sneeze or cough. Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces are the best defense against spreading the virus on the surface. Filtration can only help remove the virus from indoor air and prevent it from recirculating throughout the house.
Standard filters have openings of only 5 to 10 microns in diameter. These filters are capable of trapping normal household pollutants like dust, pollen, and pet hair. Most normal air purifiers capture particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, the Covid-19 virus is a very small 0.125 microns and standard filter/purifiers have openings that are too large to capture or destroy.
As a homeowner, you are seeking solutions for your family to keep everyone as safe as possible. Northwind AC takes pride in providing consumer information to help you make product choices. If you have questions concerning IAQ in your home, give us a call. Let’s look at some enhanced filters for your home.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) see www.ashrae.org, developed a rating system for filtration, MERV, or minimum efficiency reporting values. MERV reports a filter’s ability to capture larger particles, between 10 and 0.3 microns (µm). This value is helpful in comparing the performance of different filters.
Filters are rated between MERV 6 and 16. The higher the MERV rating the better the filter is at trapping specific types of particles. MERV 16 filters are considered HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filters.
Filtrete and 3M developed their own rating system, MPR or Microparticle Performance Rating. The MPR air filter scale is expressed differently, with a range from 100 – 2800. Just like with MERV filters, the larger the number, the better the filtration.
MRP 100 to 300 filters trap lint and dust, 600 MRP filter pollen and mold, 1200 MRP will handle smoke and smog, and 1500 MRP adds limited protection against viruses. This is the range considered HEPA.
The Benefits of Electrostatic Air Filters
So far we have looked at general descriptions for filters to help you make decisions about the purchase. If you suffer from a respiratory illness such as allergies or asthma, Northwind AC recommends a filter rated as HEPA.
An electrostatic HEPA filter might offer you some added benefits. Electrostatic filters have a slightly higher upfront cost, but over time they save money, hassle, and frustration in maintaining your HVAC system.
What is different about Electrostatic Filter?
As stated, air filters serve to remove contaminants from outside air from recirculating through the HVAC system. An electrostatic air filter is made of metal and uses static electricity to give particles a positive charge as they enter the filter. The air travels over the metal surface, creating static electricity, similar to socks sliding across the carpet.
The next layer is an ionizing layer with a negative electric charge, which attracts the charged particles. The particle is trapped before it releases its charge as the air continues through subsequent layers of the filter. Since the filter is metal, it is reusable, so you don’t need to replace them every few months as you do with a regular filter.
You do have to wash electrostatic air filters, which can add another chore to your to-do list.
Pros and Cons for Electrostatic Air Filters
When making a consumer decision, you need as much information as possible. An electrostatic air filter might meet your need. But to make the right choice you need to hear all the facts.
Things that make you say “Yay!”
Things that make you say “Well?”
The metal filter can be removed from the blower component and cleaned with a hose. The filter will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes to dry. Reinserting a damp filter is not advisable. The airflow will pull the moisture from the filter into the ductwork.
Mold needs two things to grow; moisture and organic material, such as dust. Avoid putting moisture in your ducts.
It is also inadvisable to run your HVAC system without a filter while your electrostatic filter is drying. Keep this in mind and turn the system off during washing and drying; be careful not to wash during extreme weather conditions.
There are a lot of places to buy quality filters; you can go to your local hardware or big box store, search Nordic Pure, Inc., or find them on Amazon. Simply the Best doesn’t have a specific brand recommendation as there are many good options. We’ve linked the top-rated air filters from Amazon here for you.
Is an Electrostatic Air Filter Right for You?
If your family does not have a respiratory illness, you are a hands-on type homeowner and do not mind cleaning the filter, the electrostatic air filter can save you money and still keep your home clean. Still, wondering what HVAC filter is best for your family?
If you want more information on different types of furnace air filters, check out this video from This Old House. If you’re still unsure about which filter to use and need more information, call Northwind AC and we can help you make an informed decision for your home air filtration system.
Don’t wait until you have to deal with a malfunctioning AC system to determine if it is time for an Electrostatic Filter Replacement. Regular inspections of your Electrostatic Filter can help you to have functioning equipment in your home. If you need any furnace repair in Houston, heating installation, HVAC Replacement, or heating replacement in Houston, TX, contact us and get a solution.