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CleanAir Solutions Blog

What’s the Big Deal About Air Filters? We Give You the Scoop!

air filters

IAQ. ACH. HEPA. MERV.*

These days, it seems like acronyms are in the air—literally.

But that’s not all that is in the air, especially in the indoor air the average person is breathing for an estimated 90 percent of each day.

HAP. PERC. VOC. CO.**

So what kinds of scary, toxic things must be in your indoor air supply to warrant all the fuss over A/C filters, vacuum cleaner filters, humidifier filters, furnace filters, etc.? Is your indoor air quality really that bad?

Unfortunately, statistics tell us that the indoor air we rely on often really is that bad. It is full of toxic chemicals and compounds, pollutants, and other perils that can impact our immune system, our internal organs, our memory, and even our life.

As it turns out, air filters just might end up being the unsung heroes that save the day for us all. So we would like to take you on a little tour of all that today’s high-tech air filters have to offer you.

*IAQ = Indoor Air Quality. ACH = Air Changes Per Hour. HEPA = High Efficiency Particulate Air. MERV = Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.

**HAP = Household Air Pollution. PERC = Perchloroethylene (a chemical used in dry cleaning). VOC = Volatile Organic Compounds. CO = Carbon Monoxide.

2 Types of Air Filters To Consider

With the ongoing publicity regarding global warming and the decimation of air-purifying natural plant life, it is natural that people are getting more curious about what high-tech air filters have to offer.

The good news is, even as filtration technology continues to advance, there are still really only two main types of filters that truly stand out from the rest in terms of keeping your indoor air squeaky clean year-round.

HEPA-Rated Filter

The HEPA-rated filter is still the gold standard when it comes to filtering out even micro-particle toxins in the air. HEPA, as you read earlier, stands for "high efficiency particulate air."

The US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) invented the HEPA filter during World War II. This specialized filter’s mission at the time was to filter out airborne radioactive micro-particles.

Today, the HEPA filter is still recognized globally as the world's best filter.

Consider this: a HEPA filter can remove airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns (1/100th the width of a single strand of human hair!). And a HEPA filter can do this with a 99.97 percent accuracy rate.

MERV-Rated Filter

MERV isn’t actually a filter. Rather, it is a filter rating.

The MERV rating system was developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to indicate how well a filter removes small particulate matter from the air.

MERV-rated filters are most frequently associated with furnaces. The higher the MERV rating (which stands for "minimum efficiency reporting value," as you might recall from earlier), the more efficiently the filter will work.

MERV filter ratings are in microns. The lowest MERV filter is 1. The highest is 16. Similar to how HEPA-rated filters work, a MERV filter rated 13 or higher can capture micro-particles as small as 0.3 microns. However, MERV filters will catch only about 75 percent of these tiny particles (compared to the HEPA filter’s rate).

NOTE: If a HEPA filter had a MERV rating (which it doesn’t), it would automatically be rated as MERV 17 or higher.

So Which Filter Type Do You Need?

If you or someone in your family suffers from asthma or severe allergies, you might already be headed out the door, keys in hand, to nab a HEPA filter.

But before you do, there is something else you need to know about these types of highly efficient filters. Unfortunately, they are not designed to work well with every HVAC system.

The reason for this has to do with airflow restriction. The smaller the particulate matter a given filter is designed to trap and retain, the more that filter will naturally restrict the airflow coming through it. With smaller holes for the air to flow through, an HVAC system will have to work harder to push that air through the filter and out into the space.

HEPA filters and filters with higher MERV ratings will work better when paired with the newer breed of naturally energy-efficient HVAC systems. Today, there are also certain HVAC systems that are designed specifically to work with HEPA and higher MERV-rated filters. Often, these types of units are found in hospitals and similar settings where the need to trap and contain airborne germs and toxins is critically high.

If you pair an older HVAC unit with a HEPA or high MERV-rated filter, there is a risk that it could cause the system to operate less efficiently. The best option here is to take a look to see if your system has a recommended MERV rating. If you want to use a higher MERV-rated filter than what your current HVAC system is rated for, you should call the manufacturer first to find out what, if any, impact that will have on your utility costs or system efficiency.

Give Us a Call

With today’s growing concerns about indoor air quality, choosing a high-quality, durable filter has never been more important. But the technology itself is changing so fast that sometimes it can feel like it is impossible to keep up with all the new acronyms, ratings, and options!

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we have decades of expertise in the indoor air quality and heating/cooling industries. Our goal is to help you achieve the level of clean, pristine air that safeguards your family’s health and also delivers top-level energy efficiency.

Give us a call at 905-544-2470 and let us know how we can help you with your indoor air quality needs!

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