Indoor Air Quality: Q and A

You wouldn’t drink a glass of dirty water, so why would you take in a lung full of polluted air? The simple answer, of course, is that much of the pollution in your home is invisible. However, if you could see the gas, odors, volatile organic compounds, and viruses present in your air, you’d hesitate before taking another breath.

We spend 90 percent of our time indoors breathing air that’s more polluted than the air outside. It’s time we fix that.

Here, we’re answering your frequently asked questions regarding indoor air quality and how to improve it.

How Often Should I Change My Air Filter?

How often you should replace the air filter in your HVAC unit depends on several factors, including:

  • If you own pets

  • The condition of your indoor air quality

  • Type of filter

  • Whether or not you suffer from allergies

As a general rule, you should replace disposable filters every 30 to 90 days. If you have pets or allergies, consider changing out your filter every 30 days.

Set a reminder on your phone to inspect your filter once a month. Remove the filter and hold it up to a light. If you can’t see any light through the filter, it’s time to replace it. Otherwise, you can likely continue using it for another 30 days.

What is the MERV Rating?

The next time you buy a replacement filter, pay close attention to the MERV rating. That’s the minimum efficiency reporting value, and it determines how effective the filter is at trapping airborne particles. Filters are rated on a scale of 1 to 16. The smaller the particle the filter can catch, the higher its MERV.

Keep in mind that higher is not always better. Your HVAC unit might not be equipped to push air through the tight mesh material of a MERV 13 filter. For everyday household needs, a filter with a MERV of 7 to 12 will suffice. This will effectively filter out the following:

  • Pollen

  • Dust mites

  • Carpet fibers

  • Mold spores

  • Legionella

And more.

What Are the Different Types of Air Purification Systems?

There are a variety of air purifiers on the market, each designed for a specific purpose. Here are the five most common purification systems.

UV light filtration: This air purifier effectively kills viruses, bacteria, and other biological contaminants as they circulate through your HVAC system.

Ionizer: This system creates an electrical charge around air molecules such as dust and pollen to fall out of suspension and stick to nearby surfaces to be vacuumed or dusted.

Electrostatic filter: Also known as washable or reusable filters, this filter attracts particles with an electrostatic charge. The big benefit here is that you don’t have to replace it.

Activated carbon filter: This filter consists of a screen of tiny particles that help trap gas and smoke and eliminate household odors.

HEPA filter: A high-efficiency particulate air filter is commonly a standalone unit that forces air through a mesh screen to remove pollutants.

Do Air Cleaners Reduce Health Risks

Air cleaners feature the same technology used by hospitals to sterilize equipment and surfaces: ultraviolet light. When used in conjunction with your HVAC system, UV germicidal light changes the cell structures of viruses as they pass through, rendering them harmless. A concentrated blast of UV rays disrupts the microorganism’s nucleic acids, effectively killing it.

UV light has proven effective against a wide range of pathogens, including:

  • Rhinoviruses

  • Influenza

  • SARS

  • Fungi

  • Pollen

  • Superbugs

Air cleaners can dramatically reduce the chances of infection by airborne viruses and can help alleviate allergy symptoms.

For all of your indoor air quality needs, rely on Express Plumbing Heating & Cooling. To schedule your appointment, call (609) 301-0048.