What’s the Difference Between Air Filtration and Air Purification?

Air Filtration and Air Purification in Concord, NC

The terms air purification and air filtration are often used interchangeably. However, they are two vastly different things. If you’re looking to improve the your Charlotte, NC home’s indoor air quality, you need to understand these two systems and how they vary. While your HVAC system offers limited indoor air quality (IAQ) benefits via ongoing air filtration and humidity regulation, certain air quality concerns warrant using integrated HVAC accessories like air purifiers.

What Your HVAC Air Filter Can and Cannot Do

All heat pumps, heaters, and air conditioners come with pre-installed air filters. HVAC equipment manufacturers include these components to ensure the longevity of their products. They also recommend that homeowners check their air filters monthly and change them every one to three months as needed.

Standard air filters keep dust, hair, textile fibers, carpet fibers, and pet fur from entering the interior of heaters and ACs. Without them, AC evaporator coils would ice over, thermocouples would grow dusty and stop working, and air intake valves could become clogged. Regularly changing air filters is the best way to prevent problems like overheating, short cycling, and shutdown. However, it’s rarely the best way to protect your IAQ. Given the relatively large mesh of standard filters, many allergens and contaminants pass right through them. Moreover, even many upgraded filters cannot collect, retain, or neutralize mold, fungi, bacteria, or viruses.

Understanding Filter Ratings and the Limitations of High-Rated Air Filters

All air filters have maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings that denote which particulates they filter. Standard HVAC air filters have MERV ratings of six to eight. Upgrading to an air filter with a MERV rating of nine to 12 will significantly reduce the number of allergens and contaminants in your living space. Higher-rated filters have tighter mesh and greater surface area. They can pick up airborne particulates of smaller sizes, and they tend to last a bit longer. For instance, some filters with MERV ratings of 12 only need replacing every six to nine months and can eliminate smoke, dander, pollen, and mold.

There are, however, drawbacks to upgrading your HVAC air filter on your own. Foremost among these is an instant and significant decline in airflow. Although tighter filter mesh means more thoroughly cleaned air, higher-rated filters can also hinder air movement. So much so that before homeowners use air filters with MERV ratings of 13 or higher, they must often invest in major HVAC system modifications.

Air Purifiers: What They Do, How They Work, and Why You Might Need One

Air purifiers are integrated HVAC system accessories installed in air ducts or attached to them. These units work in tandem with air filters by picking up the airborne debris that flows through these simple components. Like air filters, air purifiers use mesh to sift out larger contaminants. Compared to even upgraded air filters, they have greater surface area, tightly knit mesh, and strategic designs that inhibit the movement of micro-fine allergens and contaminants.

However, most air purifiers also have features or functions that actively clean the air passing through them. For instance, some release negative ions that neutralize pathogens and gaseous chemicals and weigh airborne particulates down. Few IAQ concerns have the opportunity to escape them. Although there are many types of air purifiers available for residential installation, all air purifiers are distinguishable from air filters in that in addition to sieving harmful particulates out, they also offer sanitization.

Off-Gassing Building Materials and the Rapid Spread of Communicable Illnesses

Surprisingly, your home and its contents are likely among the biggest contributors to your poor IAQ. Flooring adhesives, unsealed particleboard, paint, and more are constantly off-gassing harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, xylene, ethyl glycol, and benzene. These gaseous chemicals flow right through standard filters.

If you and other building residents constantly swap illnesses, your IAQ could be partly to blame. Although air purification technologies can’t stop the spread of all germs all the time, they can minimize it. These accessories neutralize or eradicate viruses and bacteria even as they eliminate VOCs.

Which Integrated IAQ Accessories Are Right for Your Charlotte Home?

Every home has a unique range of IAQ concerns. Increasing air filtration works best when the indoor air is rife with larger particles like pet hair, dander, pollen, and dust. If your household struggles with mold, rapid transmission of illness, or high concentrations of VOCs and other harmful chemicals, installing a whole-house air purifier could help. The best way to get a needs-specific recommendation for IAQ technology is by scheduling an IAQ assessment.

We help homeowners throughout Charlotte, NC and the surrounding cities maintain clean, healthy, and comfortable indoor environments. Our clients turn to us for heating and cooling maintenance, replacement, and repairs. We also offer wine cellar installation, energy audits, carbon monoxide alarms, and more. To explore the latest and most cutting-edge IAQ improvements, contact All Temp Co., Inc Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, & Electrical today to schedule an appointment.