Choosing an air conditioning filter, although it might seem easy at first, can prove to be a difficult task.
From energy efficiency rating and materials to filter types and particularities, there is a lot of information needed to make the best choice for your property.
This blog post is part 3 of the Air Quality series, where you can learn everything you should know about the types of air filtration, dangers, and air quality standards, for a safe facility and satisfied tenants.
Sounds interesting? Keep reading to find out all you need to know about AC filters.
Not all air filters are the same when it comes to removing indoor pollutants.
Although higher-quality filters might not be the first option as they are more expensive, they can better remove toxins from the air.
The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV rating, is the industry standard used to indicate the filter’s efficiency and performance.
The number shows how well the filter can remove material and foreign molecules from the air.
Standard MERV values range from 1 to 16.
Better filtration is indicated by a higher MERV number, as follows:
- MERV 1-4: These are typical standard filters that include a low-cost, basic level of filtration.
- MERV 6-8: These filters are widely used in residential settings and provide adequate filtration. To provide more surfaces for collecting particles, they’re often made of pleated cloth or paper.
- MERV 9-12: These mid-range filters are of good quality and can absorb molecules as small as 1 micron.
- MERV 13-16: The best quality filters available are MERV 13-16 high-efficiency filters. They can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns or larger, and work best for commercial areas and facilities.
When it comes to purchasing new air filters for your AC unit, there are several different brands, shapes, and styles to choose from.
Most air filters, however, are divided into two main types: pleated and non-pleated.
But what are pleated filters?
Pleated air filters are made by folding a sheet of polyester, parchment, or cotton into pleats to maximize the surface area.
This allows the filter to capture more airborne contaminants like dust, dirt, and hair (from pets and humans), which would otherwise harm your AC’s fan and clog the coils.
What Are Air Filters?
An air filter cleans the air that circulates through your AC system.
Filters catch and retain a variety of particulates and pollutants that can harm your health and comfort, such as:
- Dirt and dust
- Bacteria and microorganisms
- Mold and mold spores
- Hair and fur
- Pet dander
- Small pieces of metal, plaster, or wood
How Often To Replace Air Filters?
It’s a common question, but the simple answer is… it depends.
Filters should be changed 3-4 times a year in indoor commercial spaces such as offices, according to a specific maintenance schedule.
Filters must be changed more frequently in harsher environments, such as outdoor enclosures, or highly active systems, such as those used in medical or military fields.
Maintenance sensors, in most situations, dictate the need to replace filters in specialty equipment and can be of great aid, but it’s recommended to talk to a specialized company.
They will best advise you, considering the particularities of your business.
Check The Filter Often…
Air filters are often an overlooked component of the HVAC unit.
They don’t just suck out pollen and dirt that would otherwise spread in the area, lowering the quality of indoor air.
They often act as the first line of protection against larger items being pulled into the device – for example, bits of loose insulation, which could cause harm or pose as a fire hazard.
However, if you don’t change your air filter regularly, it can work against you.
The most common cause of HVAC system failure is clogged air filters.
Do you know the effects of a clogged air filter?
- To move air, the HVAC system’s blower fan has to work harder. Therefore, it uses more resources, which results in higher bills. Plus, it’s much more likely to break down as a result of the overwork.
- Due to the difficulties of circulating air, your indoor areas can not receive all of the air needed.
- The extra material on the air filter itself will trap moisture, allowing mold or bacteria colonies to develop.
- Particulates can collect in ducts and on surfaces because air isn’t moving as rapidly as it should be, and the one circulated is filled with dust from the clogged filter.
Specifications Worth Knowing
When looking for an air filter designed for your needs, here’s what you should consider:
- Allergies: if you suffer from allergies, you can opt for an allergy-friendly air filter. To extract indoor allergens, there are some typically used filters, like HEPA.
- Asthma: if there are people prone to asthma or if the odor and chemical emissions worsen the symptoms, you should consider using a special air purifier or an odor and chemical air purifier.
- Smoke: smoke air filters are designed to eliminate smoke, fireplace carbon, and other related gases that can aggravate respiratory problems or cause unwanted odors.
- Chemical Sensitivities: if you are particularly sensitive to chemicals, an air filter for multiple chemical sensitivities might be a good option for you.
There are a few marks and logos on the package that you should always look for.
The Energy Star logo is the first one on the list.
To be reliable, air purifiers must run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you should factor in the cost of energy when making your choice.
Purifiers that have earned the Energy Star label use around 40% less energy than regular ones.
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters use a thick, random arrangement of fibers to trap airborne particles from moving air.
HEPA filters are now a standard issue for almost every air purifier on the market, and their operation is simple but extremely efficient.
And here is an interesting fact you should know them:
HEPA filters exist due to atomic-bomb research, where they were used to filter out radioactive contaminants from the air.
Select an air purifier that is appropriate for the size of your space
The next thing to look for is an air purifier that is sized appropriately for your spaces.
If you put a small room air purifier in a big area, it won’t be able to clean the air well.
Some manufacturers include the recommended area in their requirements sheet, making it simple to see if a model would work on your property.
You should also check the CADR number.
CADR stands for Clean Air Delivery Rate. It is an independent test result from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) in the US.
It tracks cigarette smoke, pollen, and dust, and is represented in cubic feet or meters per minute. The higher the CADR number, the more particles are filtered per minute.
Air Filters Reduce Contaminants And Particles
We talked before about the air filter as being a critical yet often overlooked part of your HVAC unit. And we cannot stress this enough.
Air filters, while appearing to be nothing more than large cardboard boxes full of fibers or pleated material, have a significant impact on many aspects of indoor comfort and HVAC equipment efficiency.
HVAC filters are intended to remove toxins and contaminants from the air passing through them.
Air cleaning can help eliminate airborne pollutants, such as virus-carrying molecules. They are proven to be extremely efficient, especially during these times when COVID-19 is still lurking around.
When additional ventilation with outside air is not feasible without sacrificing indoor comfort (temperature or humidity), or when outdoor air pollution is high, they may be especially useful.
Here are the main filter types out on the market, and the most important points about each of them.
1: Media Filters
The part of a filtering system that removes unwanted particles is called filter media.
Paper, cotton, and foam are the most popular filter media used in these filters.
The filter is placed in the return air duct of the air system. It captures airborne particles inside the filter media as air moves through the HVAC system, preventing them from entering the indoor space.
The strength, stability, wear and stretch resistance, absorption, permeability, and cost are the most important characteristics.
2: Electronic Air Cleaners
Electronic Air Cleaners (EACs) are high-tech, electrically powered air filtration units that are integrated into your HVAC system.
When the air stream reaches the filter, EACs use electricity to produce a static charge. Every molecule in the air becomes positively charged, regardless of size.
As the particles migrate towards the collector side of the air cleaner, which is negatively charged, they stick to it.
You can think of these electronic air cleaners as dirt magnets.
3: HEPA And ULPA Filters
ULPA and HEPA filters have a lot in common, but they vary in a few main ways.
Both filters use dense fiber layers to build a fine mesh filter that traps particulate matter as air passes through.
Particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of very small particles and liquid droplets in the air.
If inhaled, these particles can affect people’s lungs and hearts, as well as cause serious health problems including lung disease and cancer.
A ULPA filter stands for Ultra-Low Particulate Air filter, while a HEPA filter stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter.
The minimum collection efficiency rating of HEPA and ULPA filters is as follows:
- HEPA: 99.97% reliability for removing particles with a diameter of 0.3 m or larger PM
- ULPA: 99.9995 percent efficiency for the removal of PM with a diameter of 0.12 m or larger
A HEPA filter should be sufficient for the majority of rooms. It is capable of trapping the vast majority of particles and reducing contamination of electronic components.
If your space has more stringent pollution requirements, ULPA filters can meet, if not exceed, those requirements.
These are often used in biological clean rooms to prevent pathogen cross-contamination.
4: Ionic Air Cleaners
How do ionic air cleaners work?
Negative ion charges are emitted into the air by an air ionizer.
These ion charges attach to airborne particles as they float around in the air.
Once the air particles have been charged, they will ultimately adhere to a surface in your facilities, clump together, and can be easily filtered and removed from the indoor air.
The particles don’t differentiate between what they bind to, which is a flaw in this process. The carpeting, walls, clothes, and, in the worst-case scenario, your lungs may all fall victim to these clusters of particles.
In case of allergies or any other respiratory diseases, is not recommended to use air ionizers as a form of relief.
5: The Best Air Filter
While you might believe that installing a few air purifiers in your facility would help improve air quality, know it isn’t enough.
The same goes for installing the wrong filter compared to your needs.
Maintenance is an essential part of filtration efficiency.
You won’t have to think about air filter replacement or safe disposal if you opt for a routine service from professionals.
The reverse, on the other hand, can be harmful. Skin and throat discomfort, dry eyes, nausea, and headaches are a few of the consequences.
For safety and security, it is best to talk to a specialist.
Do your research, learn what forms of filters are out there and the needed requirements for best performance.
But know that in the end, a professional team will give you the best advice, customized based on your spaces, the specific air impurities, and people indoors.
To benefit from a top, efficient filter, it is not enough to just install it.
Efficiency is built on several factors: filter types, replacement periods, knowing when to take action or not.
For example, looking at different types of filters, HEPA ones are so efficient that they get better with time. As a result, the dirtier they become, the more particles they can filter out.
This occurs when particles larger than the spaces between the fibers (0.3 microns) attempt to pass through the filter and embed themselves on the fiber.
The space between the material threads narrows as bigger particles become incorporated, and the HEPA filter becomes more effective.
1: How To Know You Need To Replace The Filter
Air pollution causes 1 in 9 deaths every year worldwide. You can see why it’s so crucial to always keep an eye on your air filters.
The amount of time an old air filter will last depends on the air quality and the number of people in the facility.
If you see a lot of people sneezing at work, or your energy bill is unusually high for no apparent reason, it’s time to check your air filter and consider replacing it.
2: How Often Should You Change Your Air Conditioner Filter?
For the sake of workers, and tenants, the reliability of the HVAC system and indoor air quality in the commercial property should be a top priority for any company or building owner.
Although many factors influence the quality of the air in your commercial building, one of the most significant is the air filter used by the HVAC system.
Your HVAC technician would be able to perform a comprehensive review of your company’s filter requirements and suggest a replacement schedule.
This will guarantee that your HVAC system is still performing at its best.
Most HVAC professionals can take care of their commercial customers’ filters if they need to be adjusted in between scheduled maintenance appointments.
3: Three Different Types Of Air Conditioner Filters
In commercial HVAC systems, there are many types of air filters to choose from:
Filters made of fiberglass
This is the most popular form of disposable air filters. To form the filter media, layered fiberglass filaments are laid over each other and usually reinforced with a metal grating that protects the fiberglass and prevents failure and collapse.
Polyester and pleated filters
These filters are similar to fiberglass filters, but they have a higher airflow resistance and better dust-stopping performance.
Filters with a high-efficiency particulate filtration rating
These units use a very fine filter to filter the air that passes through them. HEPA filters that meet DOE standard STD-3020-97 are used by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and its contractors.
4: How Long Do Air Conditioner Filters Last?
The size and type of your HVAC system are the two factors to consider when determining how often filters should be replaced.
These considerations are usually linked to the size and form of your company, as a larger structure would almost certainly need a larger, more robust system.
A small business may be using the same form of HVAC system and air filter as a comparable-sized home.
Depending on the type of filter you use, you might need to change it every 30 days or every 6 months or more, depending on the filter manufacturer’s advice and what your HVAC professional thinks is best for your company.
Air Filters As Filters For The Air
Did you know that over 80% of tenants are inquiring more about HVAC and air quality than they were before the pandemic?
People care now more than ever about the air they breathe. And air filters play a major, if not the most important role.
Inefficient air filters will cost you money in the form of wasted resources, increased maintenance costs, damaged equipment, underproductive employees, and sick tenants.
There are many different types of air filters available, but the most cost-effective isn’t necessarily the most affordable.
Air Filter Types Efficiency Information
The first thing you should look at is the MERV rating and HEPA filtration.
In addition to the two, other efficiency measures affect how well a filter will work in your HVAC equipment:
Initial and sustained performance
The initial efficiency rating indicates how well a filter performs when it is first installed, while sustained efficiency indicates how well the filter performs over time.
This is also known as filter resistance, and it describes how the filter can affect airflow in the HVAC system.
You might’ve never heard of arrestance before, as it’s a very specific term.
It describes an air filtration device’s ability to extract synthetic dust from the air.
Dust retaining efficiency
It is a measurement of how much dust it can retain at a given pressure drop.
What Is Indoor Air Purity?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality inside buildings and structures, directly related to the occupants’ health and comfort.
Understanding and managing common indoor contaminants will help you lower the risk of developing indoor health problems.
Basic Dangers Of Less Than Good Air Purity
Air pollution can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, cause shortness of breath, aggravate asthma and other respiratory disorders, and have an effect on the heart and cardiovascular system.
Long-term inhalation of contaminated air can lead to dangerous health issues.
Particle pollution can also lead to lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.
The indoor air quality will be of more relevant concern in 2021 and the future than it has ever been. Sustainability and energy quality are two main factors behind the top HVAC trends.
Some Ideas On How To Improve The Air Purity Standards
Now that you know what can cause poor indoor air quality, let’s talk about what can actually be done.
Here are some of the top ways to improve your indoor air quality:
- Regularly change your air conditioning system’s filters
- Check and clean the air ducts from dust, dander, and mold
- Keep the floors and carpets clean, as well as the overall facility
- Control indoor humidity, as it leads to mold
Do Air Filters Really Improve Indoor Air Quality?
The answer yes.
And science backs up the effectiveness of air filters with facts and research.
They are specifically designed by specialists to reduce and filter airborne particles like dander, pollen, and mold spores while also killing bacteria and viruses.
Air filters can reduce indoor fine particle concentrations by 60%.
Stay in Trend and Stay Safe
The benefits of HVAC systems are becoming more apparent as smart building technology develops.
As the industry continues to digitize, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and computer modeling will become even more prominent.
Choose the Best Indoor Air Quality Services with Servi-tek
HVAC systems are crucial in meeting increased sanitation requirements because they filter and purify the air while also preventing the spread of COVID-19 particles.
Professional teams who can show their tenants that their HVAC units are well-maintained and that the indoor air is clean will gain a competitive advantage in attracting tenants and increasing their business.
Start today, with the help of Servi-Tek.
For more than 15 years, Servi-Tek has provided affordable and energy-efficient air filtration services to commercial and industrial facilities.
Our expertise ranges from air filters to needlepoint ionization and UV-C disinfection lights.
Give us a call today at (866) 454-6185 or use our online contact form to find out how we can help you breathe clean and safe air indoors.