The doors and windows are locked against the winter chill and everyone is safely tucked indoors. Winter can be warm and cozy, but it’s also the ideal time for germs to spread like wildfire through your family.
If you’re cringing at the thought of passing another box of tissues, don’t despair of winter. Blame your windows.
These days, windows are so well-sealed that they’re brilliant at keeping the heat (or cool during the summer months) where it belongs. But the side effect is that it also keeps the air right where it is, and that means less clean, fresh air circulating in your home.
Air filters to the rescue!
You’re not stuck breathing stale air all winter if you’ve got the right filtration system in place. There are different types of filtering systems with their own unique characteristics, so you can choose the one that works best for you.
Generally speaking, filtration methods fall into two categories: filters can be installed at the end points of your heating and cooling system, or right inside the ducts themselves.
Here’s how each of them works.
End Point Filtration
You’re probably familiar with the filters that sit at the intakes. You typically find them at Lowes or Home Depot and for a few dollars, replace them every few months. If you wait too long, you know how dirty and scary they can look!
A basic blue fiberglass air filter is the least expensive – but also the least effective – catching only about 10% of airborne particulates. If that doesn’t sound like much, you can use a white cotton fiber filter, which will boost that to 40%. Higher end 5-inch pleated air filters will cost more but they are also effective at catching up to 88% of airborne particulates.
These types of filters are generally selected for their simplicity, low cost and the ease of replacing them with a stepstool and five minutes on a Saturday. Many times they are sufficient for homeowners or renters who want to keep some dust out of the air.
Be mindful, though – if you don’t switch filters out every few months as recommended, they can negatively impact the performance of your HVAC system. They can, in fact, become a source of pollutants themselves, spitting dust back into the air and even clogging ducts.
For the sake of the life of your HVAC system and you own health, don’t skimp on changing filters.
Don’t love the idea of constantly replacing filters? Or perhaps you have kids, pets or just a bad case of asthma and want something more effective at removing bacteria and allergens. That’s where the second type of filtration comes in.
In-Duct Filtration Systems
When you want to do more than simply remove some degree of airborne particulates, filtration systems installed in ducts can be a good choice. These systems are effective against all three categories of indoor pollutants: particulates, gasses and microbes.
One type of in-duct system uses UV lights to kill bacteria that enters into ducts. These germicidal lights can be effective at removing up to 98% of bacteria, allergens, pollen, and airborne particulates.
Another type will disperse hydrogen peroxide particles and kill germs both in air and on surfaces in your home. The particles generated by this system will attach to germs, condense into water vapor and then be cleaned through the air purification system. If that sounds a little scary, just remember that this happens at the microscopic level, and is safety tested for use in hospitals.
If you have young children who are prone to being sick – or who come home from school with whatever the germ du jour happens to be – if you want to rid your home of pet smells, dander, pollen, mold spores or just plain old ordinary dust, and especially if someone in your home has a compromised respiratory system, this type of in-duct filtration will serve you well.
These systems do require maintenance and it’s not a DIY project. But with a maintenance contract from your installation provider, you can breathe a whole lot easier.
If you’re interested in installing or learning more about filtration options for your home, let us know. We provide multi-year contracts and service your system regularly to ensure its longevity and your health.