North America Home Air Filter Systems We often breathe without even taking much notice. But, if your indoor air quality’s not meeting standards, it have a negative effect on your health. We’re not kidding. Consider this: have you ever been angry and had to bite your tongue to keep from saying something you might later regret? Yeah…that’s called a “filter.” It keeps the toxicity low and helps fend off unpleasant immediate and future consequences. That’s also why we filter our water, have screens on our windows in the summer and capture lint in our dryers. We also need to consider how best to filter indoor air. Using the correct air filtration prducts for ideal indoor air quality in North America helps keep the pollutants and particles from entering the air in your home. We offer several options to help filter your air. The filters range from HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration—which hospitals use because of the high level of air quality they produce, down to basic filters that need to be replaced every month: Air Cleaners/Purifiers HEPA Filters Media Air Cleaners Electronic Air Cleaners Basic Air Cleaners Air Filter MERV Ratings Why are air purifiers even necessary? Fifty years ago, home comfort was different. People spent more time outdoors, and families were more likely to turn on a fan and open some windows than shut everything tight and adjust their AC. Counterintuitively, this created a healthier indoor environment, since all the open windows allowed for the circulation of air throughout a home which allowed harmful pollutants to escape outside. The EPA has noted that indoor air pollution has increased as buildings have become more airtight, trapping harmful gases and particles inside the home. They recommend three strategies for improving your indoor air quality: Source Control: eliminate sources of pollution Ventilation improvements: increase the circulation of outdoor air coming indoors Air Cleaners: we discuss in detail below Sealing our homes tighter has allowed us to create more efficient homes that use less energy and keep us more comfortable. This is generally good, but as scientists have noted, air quality has taken a hit. Air purifiers for cat allergies When people come to us looking for advice on air purification technology, it's for a limited number of reasons, and top on that list is cat allergies. There's a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to air purification as people often try a less effective, portable air purifier for their bedroom first, and it just doesn't work the way they expected. Well, we're here to clear the air and eliminate some of the common myths so you can make a healthy decision when it comes to air purification technology. First, there's no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat or dog, though some breeds cause less of a problem than others. And while your allergies may be exacerbated by pet dander, it's not the true culprit making you sneeze. According to Live Science, most people with cat allergies are reacting to a protein found on cat skin called Fel D 1, and it's the attributes of this protein that make it worse than dog allergies. There are approximately twice as many reported cases of cat allergies as there are dog allergies, and cat allergy sufferers tend to have more extreme symptoms than people allergic to dogs. This is probably because dog allergens settle while cat allergens tend to stay airborne for longer periods of time. What does this have to do with air filtration? Well, it's true that pet dander can exacerbate allergies because the protein sticks to dander (which is dead skin cells by the way, not cat fur), but it's not the root cause. If you purchase an air purifier that uses a filter with a MERV rating that's too low to capture the allergens, you won't see a benefit because the irritant passes right through the filter. As if that wasn't enough, this protein is extremely sticky and can travel just about anywhere. That means that it will stick to not only pet dander, but other, smaller particles as well. On top of that, most allergy sufferers can tell you that vacuuming the floor can trigger allergic reactions, as allergens that have stuck to the carpet are suddenly freed and sent airborne again. Researchers have used filters capable of snaring particles that are 0.3 microns and larger to study the Fel d 1 protein, indicating that a filtration and purification system with a MERV rating of 16 or higher should remove the majority of cat allergens from the air. Service Experts provides HEPA filters that meet this criteria. A technician would still be need to evaluate your system and make a recommendation based on your HVAC equipment, because most are simply not designed to handle the pressure a HEPA filter would put on the blower motor and other components. For most of our customers, a media air cleaner will be able to provide a high level of filtration with a lower impact on air flow throughout the home due to it's high surface area, and would also still function to capture a significant portion of cat allergens. Studies indicate that more than half of the airborne Fel d 1 protein is found attached to particles greater than 2.5 microns in size, and most media air cleaners are designed to capture particles at least 1 micron in size. Even better, these types of products are widely compatible with existing forced air HVAC systems. Other recommendations that allergists have made include removing allergen trapping carpet from your home, and marking some areas off limits to the cat (such as the bedroom) should help improve your comfort. As always, trust your doctor with your health, and take their recommendations seriously. While a whole home air purifier will help to improve air quality and can remove many of the particles carrying the Fel d 1 allergen, other behaviors, such as letting the cat sleep on the bed, will diminish the positive impacts this technology can have. Air purification for asthma If you're asthmatic you've likely had to struggle with air quality in the past, whether it was at work or in the home, or just a really poor day for outdoor air quality. Air purifiers can help you if you're asthmatic, but don't take it from us, WebMD recommends the same. Just as with cat allergies, it's suggested that you remove other sources of irritants such as carpets, which are notorious for trapping all kinds of pollutants. They also recommend trying portable air purifiers, and getting one for every room that you'll spend time in. Whatever filtration system you decide to use, check the MERV rating and make sure it's high quality - 11 or above. HEPA filters are considered the gold standard, and they have an equivalent MERV rating of 17-20. Filtration at that level is used to capture airborne viruses, radioactive material, and in operating rooms. You should also check carefully that whatever filtration system you decide to use is not producing ozone. For an asthmatic person, ozone can be dangerous as it's known to cause bronchospasm, even in low concentrations. If you want to use several portable room air cleaners, consider buying units with wall mount attachments so you have the option of creating a semi permanent place for it to live. If you're ready to just scrub the entire house clean of irritants, consider installing a whole home air purification system, and maybe keep the portable one for the office. Air purifiers for dust and pollen Generally speaking, most 1" filters (that you should be replacing regularly) will catch dust and pollen. If you have a filter with a MERV rating of 4, you're removing a significant amount of pollen from the air. There are a couple of gotchas with this however. The filter you're using is capturing dust as it moves through your ductwork to prevent it from entering and doing damage to your furnace and its components. This is one reason we recommend regularly changing the filter. So your equipment, as it's blowing warm or cooled air through the ducts and into your house, should be supplying clean air. In an airtight home, the more powerful the filter, the better the air quality. This doesn't mean you'll have a dust free home, one of the common misconceptions we hear about filters and air purification. Just because you have a filter or air purifier doesn't mean you won't have to dust ever again. Dust is made of many things including pollen, textile fibers from clothing and bedding, hair, dead skin cells, meteorite particles that have burnt out as they contacted the earth's atmosphere, sand, insect waste, food debris, soot, lead, arsenic, particles from smoking, lint, and good old fashioned dirt. Much of this originates within the home, and some of it you will track in just naturally moving into and out of the home. Eventually, the airborne particles will either settle somewhere in the home, or make it's way into your HVAC system. With good airflow, more will go into the ductwork, which is why the presence of filters is necessary. But the filter itself does not act as a swiffer - it won't get everything and you will still need to clean house. Air purifiers for mold Mold is an insidious little organism that can cause severe respiratory infections and allergic reactions. The CDC recommends cleaning any mold you find out of your home with a bleach solution and then eliminating the source of moisture that it used to grow. Mold spreads by releasing spores into the air, and as it travels it finds damp places to settle and grow. This is how you can use an air purifier to combat mold. While an air purifier will not stop mold at the source, it can prevent it from spreading by capturing the spores as they travel through the air. Mold spores range in size from 3 to 40 microns, which means that filtration with a MERV rating of at least 8 should capture that majority of mold spores in your home as they travel through your ductwork. MERV 8 filters are readily available for consumers and don't require any special installation, but you'll want to check with your manufacturer to see if your system was engineered to work with a filter that has a MERV rating of 8 before purchasing one. And if you have a return air supply, that may need a filter as well. Keep in mind that a big part of the filtration you're able to use is ensuring your ductwork was installed and sized properly. If that was not done correctly, you may need to reduce the MERV rating to avoid premature failure of your HVAC system's components, which can be expensive. If you're concerned about proper airflow and filtration, and if your unit was not meant to work with MERV 8 filters, then give us a call. We can make upgrades to your system to provide the level of filtration you require. It might be overwhelming to try to figure out which filter or purifier is the best for your home and how much you should spend on an air filter in North America. Let Service Experts in North America help you make that decision. Our knowledgeable and NATE-certified technicians can provide you with more information and elaborate in detail on the collection of air filtration options available in North America. Make sure you are receiving the best indoor air quality possible. Give us a call at 866-397-3787 to learn more about air filtration products in North America or to schedule an appointment.