Understanding Your Air Handling Options
Modern HVAC technology offers a variety of methods for maintaining the cleanliness and healthfulness of your air. Three primary approaches include air ventilation, purification, and filtration. Let’s take a look at the main features, limitations, and benefits of each.
Ventilation: Air Exchange and Circulation
Pushing air around your home doesn’t automatically make that air any cleaner. If you constantly breathe the same old stale indoor air, you might actually get better air quality by going outside. Air circulation only improves air quality when you have a means of replacing the old, stale air with new, fresh air. Properly-installed, well-designed mechanical ventilation systems can make this possible. A mechanical ventilation system uses fans and ducts to pull cleaned, filtered air into the home while also pushing “used” air out. Bear in mind, however, that this very basic level of air cleaning may not be sufficient for your needs; nor can it prevent the infiltration of germs.
Filtration: Pulling Particles Out of the Air
Filtration works by setting up a physical, permeable barrier to airborne particles. Particles smaller than a particular size may pass through the filter, while anything larger gets stopped by the filter material. This straining process can provide much cleaner air for anyone sensitive to dust, dander, mold, pollen, and other common irritants. Less dust in the air also means less dust on your air conditioning coils. (Coils that get clogged with dust simply can’t operate efficiently.)
Many standard HVAC air filters do little to block any but the largest particles, which may prove beneficial only to your air conditioning components. For filtration that also helps to preserve your health, look into MERV-16 or HEPA filters, which can block particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Purification: Killing Contaminants Before They Cause Trouble
Air purification focuses on killing any germs that may infiltrate a home’s HVAC system. This makes them a natural complement to filtration systems, which may stop the majority of germs but still permit the tiniest one to remain airborne. Air purifiers work their magic by implementing either of these two technologies:
- Ultraviolet light – Some air purifiers expose incoming air to UVC radiation (the most toxic and destructive type of UV), killing viruses and bacteria.
- Photocatalytic ionization – This air-scrubbing technology adds a chemical catalyst to the UVC component in an air purifier system. As the UVC kills the germs, the catalyst produces chemical changes that reduce them to CO2 and water.
An air purifier may offer more air cleaning power than your home and family actually need. Some models also produce UVC radiation at frequencies that result in the production of ozone (which you don’t want in your home). If you choose this solution, ask your HVAC installer about recommended makes and models.
Which Approach Makes the Most Sense for Your Needs?
Even after examining the various pros and cons of each home air handling solution, you may still wonder which of them to install in your home. The ideal scenario, of course, would involve installing all three of them. In reality, though, one or two of these options may be all you need to tackle a pressing air handling concern or challenge. Let’s examine some specific factors that might influence your decision.
Do you or your family members suffer from a respiratory condition, poor immune system, or extreme sensitivity to allergens? If health concerns dominate your air handling questions, your primary goal is to keep those particles away from your loved ones. This means starting with air filtration and purification. This “one-two punch” can strain out all but the tiniest particles while also killing viruses and bacteria. Some products actually incorporate both of these functions into their design.
Your size and style of home may affect what kind of air handling devices you require. For example, if you live in a particularly snug little home with little natural air circulation, your first goal may be to get that air moving better with the aid of mechanical ventilation. It’s also possible that you simply need a better ventilation system that your home currently employs. Faulty installation or poor design can actually cause a ventilation system to make air quality worse instead of better. If you’re seeing lots of dust, your current system is probably just pushing dirty air around.
Whether your home’s air needs ventilation, purification, filtration, or any combination of the above, ask One Stop Heating & Cooling for assistance. We can evaluate your current setup, note any particular complications you might want to address, and install the ideal components to keep you breathing freely.