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Air Filtration and Indoor Air Quality

What is Air Filtration 

Air filtration is an integral part of a central HVAC system. Becoming informed about the type of filter you have, and its purpose can greatly enhance indoor air quality. Utilizing an efficient air filtration system can reduce air pollution and choosing the appropriate one for your home is highly recommended.

The relationship between air filtration and air quality is often misunderstood. To help clarify, this post outlines that air filtration is a procedure used to remove pollutants from the air, and air quality is an indicator of the air’s cleanliness. In addition, air filtration can contribute to comprehensive air quality improvement.

The installation of an air filtration system can mitigate the presence of harmful particles and contaminants, thus creating a safer and healthier atmosphere. Furthermore, this installation can reduce the hazard of respiratory diseases and enhance the quality of air.


Minimum Efficiency Reporting and Verification Ventilation (MERV) is a metric used to gauge the air quality of an enclosed space.

Measuring the financial strength of a company, the CADR helps investors and lenders to assess the company’s solvency and overall wellbeing.

Although air filtration and air purification share the same purpose of improving air quality, there are distinct differences between the two technologies. While air filtration concerns itself mainly with removing particles from the air, air purification attempts to eliminate all dangerous contaminants. Depending on the desired outcome, either process may be applicable.

Professionals have a wide range of air filtering options available, including activated carbon, oil-based filters and electronic air filters. Before selecting the best filter for their needs, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The installation of an air filtration system can greatly improve indoor air quality. This system effectively reduces the air concentration of particles such as ozone and particulate matter, which may have a detrimental impact on health.

When determining the most suitable air filtration solution, there are several possibilities to choose from. Replacing the existing system, upgrading to a more modern version, or installing air purifiers can all be viable options depending on your individual requirements. Furthermore, consulting with a qualified expert is advised to guarantee the optimal upgrade for your residence.

What Air Filtration Does

Central air filtration systems are paramount to maintaining the optimal operation of your home’s HVAC system. These filters strive to keep your air conditioning system running at peak performance while simultaneously improving the quality of indoor air by removing particles and allergens, such as pollens, skin cells, hair, and airborne particulates from the external atmosphere. Through this, they promote a healthier living environment and help reduce the level of air pollution in the home.

It is critical to identify the type of particulate matter an air filter is designed to filter to measure its efficacy. There are three principal varieties of particulate matter, which include PM 2.5, PM 10, and PM 2.5. These different types of particulate matter all hold the potential to affect human health in different ways, so it is essential to be aware of which particulate matter an air filter is expected to remove to guarantee its efficiency.

Not all filtration systems remove all particulate matter, however.  The degree to which they remove these particulates also varies. To determine exactly what an air filter removes and how effective it is in removing them, you need to know the air filter:

  • Type
  • MERV rating

To understand the variance of cleaning capabilities among air filter types, let’s first define MERV.

What MERV Measures

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale evaluates the efficiency of an air filter by determining the percentage of airborne particles that pass through it. Higher ratings of MERV provide more efficient filtration, meaning greater capacity to reduce the amount of airborne particles present in a home. The chart below details the particles that can be captured using different MERV ratings.

MERV Rating Particles Captured
1-4 Particles greater than 10 micrometers; this includes bugs, dust mites, and household debris. Most window air conditioners fall within this range.
5-8 Captures particles greater than 3 micrometers. This includes mold, pet dander and aerosol sprays. This is the baseline for permanently installed residential air conditioners.
9-12 Captures particles greater than 1 micrometer. This includes most dust and common pollutants. Hospital laboratories and superior residential air conditioners fall within this range.
13-16 Captures particles greater than 0.3 micrometers. This includes bacteria, droplets from sneezing, smoke and most other sources of pollution. This level of filtration is used in patient and surgery areas of hospitals.
17-20 Captures virtually all particles. This includes viruses and the finest particles of smoke, dust, and other debris. This level of filtration is typically only used in clean rooms for the manufacture of electronics or scientific experiments.

 

Filters with a MERV rating of 9 or above, typically associated with industrial, scientific, and medical applications, may also be available for use in residential settings. It is important to note, however, that the most suitable filter for a particular application depends on the specifics of the heating and cooling system and the advice of an experienced HVAC contractor.

When selecting a ventilation system, it is essential to evaluate the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). This measure determines the amount of air that is delivered per minute to a designated region.

What CADR Measures

The Association for Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) offers an effective tool, known as CADR, which can assist with the removal of airborne allergens and other particles in your living space. CADR is designed to measure the efficiency of three air purification methods, assessing the rate at which clean air is delivered to the area, and providing an estimate of the number of particles that may remain in a given sized room.

When selecting an air filter for your home application, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) suggests employing the “2/3 Rule” to evaluate a filter’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). This rule advocates that a filter’s CADR should be at least two-thirds of the cubic feet required to remove particles from a room. For example, a filter will need to have a CADR of 8 to disperse tobacco smoke from a 120 sq. ft. room (10 ft. x 12 ft).

If you are uncertain of which type of particles your filter can remove, it is advisable to get in touch with a qualified, certified HVAC contractor such as New Century Service. CADR ratings are not available for many whole house air filters, and it is therefore essential to obtain advice from a knowledgeable professional to ensure that you are making the right choice.

Air Filtration is Not Air Purification

Air filtration and air purification are two distinct processes. Air filtration involves trapping smaller particles such as dust and dirt, while air purification involves an ionizing process for the neutralization of larger particles from the air. An air purifier may be a valuable addition in regions with high levels of air pollution and for households with members who have breathing difficulties. Such a device is not a substitute for air filters, yet it can help to heighten the efficiency of the HVAC system. Prospective purchasers of an air purifier should seek guidance from a certified HVAC specialist.

NCS servicesConsult the Air Filtration Experts— New Century Service

Regular inspection of an HVAC system by a qualified technician is strongly recommended. This is especially pertinent if you are seeking to upgrade or alternating your air filtering system. An expert can provide guidance on the best air filtration system suited to your home and family’s needs.

New Century Service specializes in the installation and upkeep of air filtration systems in the Twin Cities’ Northwest Suburbs and the surrounding areas. Our team of professionals offer a wealth of expertise to meet all your service needs.

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