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Products That Improve Indoor Air Quality

We spend many hours each day in our homes - awake and asleep.  Doesn't it make sense to make investments that will improve the quality of the air you breathe inside your hame?  This article will discuss products that are available to improve the quality of your indoor air.  These products can be found on IAQSOURCE.COM .

What causes indoor air problems?

Indoor air pollution sources release particles and pollutants into the air.  If too little outdoor (fresh) air is brought into the living space, these pollutants can concentrate to levels that are unhealthy.  In the very cold months of winter and very hot months of summer - folks usually have all their windows closed.  With no fresh air coming into a home - and inadequate air cleaning - problems are bound to surface.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.  In addition to these pollutants is particulate matter that might manifest itself as dust.  Dust you can see really represents only the largest particles in the air.  Other submicron particles may also be present like pollen, mold spores, dust mite debris, pet dander, fine construction dust, etc.

Portable Air Cleaners - do they work?

If it is impossible to change the central, whole-house air cleaning system - or if you live in an apartment where you don't have access to upgrade your whole house filter - a portable air cleaner may be the answer for you.  The obvious disadvantage of a portable air cleaner is it's limited scope.  Portable cleaners will do a good job of cleaning a small area or a single room but cannot create clean air in the entire home.

Furnace and AC Filters - they're already there, upgrade them!

In the mechanical room in most homes, you will find the 1" furnace or air conditioning filter.  It is likely to be the cheap, fiberglass filter you might see at a local hardware store.  All air that is heated and cools passes through this filter before entering the living space through the supply ducts.  The purpose of these cheap filters is to product your heating and cooling equipment - not necessarily to clean the air that you breathe.  It 's an easy task to spend a few extra dollars and upgrade to a pleated filter - which is more efficient at removing small particles.

Standard Fiberglass Filter

Change your 1" furnace / AC filter at least once every three months.

Mechanical and Electronic Air Cleaners

In this part of this article - we will begin talking about products that may require professional installation or duct re-work.  A relatively simple upgrade from the 1" furnace / AC filter slot would be a whole house air cleaner installation.  A whole house air cleaner resides in precisely the same location as the 1" filter - but is usually much thicker/larger.  Because of this - a transition may have to be built to accomodate the air cleaner.  The extra size of the air cleaners means a deep pleated filter can be used  - usually with more efficient media and much higher dust holding ability.  Simply stated - a deep pleated air cleaner filter will do a better job of cleaning the air and will last longer - sometime up to a year between filter changes.  A media, or mechanical air cleaner is simply a large cabinet housing for a deep-pleated filter - usually 4"-6" in thickness.

Mechanical Air Cleaners

Electronic Air Cleaners

Though no more complicated to make room for than the mechanical cleaners above - an electronic air cleaner uses electricity to attract and remove particulate.  Some electronic cleaners like the Aprilaire Model 5000 use both a media cleaner and electronic components.  An electronic air cleaner uses an electrical charge to trap particles travelling in the air stream.  On paper, an electronic air cleaner should be roughly 10X more effective than a media/mechanical air cleaner.  We find that customers tire of cleaning the electronic components and prefer to use a disposable filter.

Other Whole House Air Cleaners

A new generation of high-end air cleaners has become available that use multiple technologies to clean the air.  One notable group of products are the Lennox PCO products (AKA PureAir).  These air cleaners use a combination of a pleated filter, Ultraviolet lamps (see below) and a photochemical insert.  Competitive products would be the Trane CleanEffectsT system, the Bryant PerfectAirT Systems and the Carrier InfinityT System

UV Duct Lamps

With "tighter," more energy efficient homes - the quality of indoor air has declined dramatically. The air circulating in the ductwork of the average home or office can be concentrated with contaminants including molds, bacteria, and viruses. Basic filtering systems offer little help because these airborne contaminants either pass through a filter or collect on filter medium and grow. Ultraviolet light can help fill the indoor air quality gap and clean the contaminants in the air that filters can't.

The germicidal effects of UV light cause photochemical damage to DNA and RNA within microorganisms. UV technology is widely used in hospitals, pharmacies, and commercial kitchens to kill airborne and surface microorganisms like mold and bacteria. Now homeowners can benefit from UV products, too.

The air in a home will pass through the HVAC system up to 75 times per day during the heating/cooling season and up to 150 time per day if the system is in continuous fan mode.

Ultraviolet lamps can be easily added to an existing forced air system. Lamps can be installed either in the main supply or return duct of a central heating or air system. The best installation location for a UV lamp is downstream of the air conditioning coils on the supply side of the heating/cooling system. Condensation on air conditioning coils and standing water in the drip pan below provide a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. A properly placed UV lamp above the coil can eliminate these risks and can clean the air as it passes into the supply ductwork of the home. UV lamp systems can also be placed in the return air ductwork to clean the air as it passes through the system.

IAQSOURCE.COM offers a full line of UV coil irradiation and air treatment systems from the leading manufacturers in the indoor air quality industry. We also stock and sell replacement bulbs for these systems.  Here is a good chart to show you how a UV lamp works ( Figure 2 )

Fig. 2

Click here to see all UV Duct Lamps

Heat Recovery Ventilators and Energy Recovery Ventilators

ndoor air quality problems have soared since the late 1970's when construction technology succeeded in developing energy efficient "tight" houses. Heat recovery ventilators have long been popular in Canada and are becoming popular in the USA. In fact, Canada has a national ventilation law. In 1992 there were more than 125,000 units sold there. In the U.S., there are three states which have ventilation laws and there are more than 15,000 units currently in use in the USA.

Pollutants inside houses, which once escaped through cracks around windows and doors, are now trapped inside creating an indoor environment that is often 2 to 5 times more polluted than outside. Pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, allergens, tobacco smoke and other pollutants add up to poor indoor air quality. An ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator) or an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) is a great way to fight poor indoor air quality by bringing fresh air into the home while also expelling stale air.

HRVs and ERVs use internal fans to pull fresh air in and move stale air out of a home. The key to efficient ventilation is the HRV or ERV core - which heats or cools incoming fresh air, recapturing 60 to 80 percent of the conditioned temperatures that would otherwise be lost.

HRV vs. ERV - what's the difference?
There are two types of energy-recovery systems: heat-recovery ventilators (HRV) and energy-recovery (or enthalpy-recovery) ventilators (ERV). Both types include a heat exchanger core, one or more fans to push air through the machine, and some controls. The main difference between a heat-recovery and an energy-recovery ventilator is the way the heat exchanger core works. With an energy-recovery ventilator, the heat exchanger transfers a certain amount of water vapor along with heat energy, while a heat-recovery ventilator only transfers heat. The part of the country in which you live will dictate that type of unit that is right for your needs. Generally speaking - HRVs are usually recommended for colder climates with longer heating seasons. ERVs are used for warmer, more humid climates with long cooling seasons.