Managing your indoor air quality (IAQ) can help improve your health and comfort. There are all sorts of types of IAQ products, and each one has its own pros and cons. To figure out which product is right for your home, it is helpful to learn a little about all your options.
MERV and HEPA Filters
This is one of the simplest and most budget-friendly fixes for air quality. All you have to do is switch to slightly higher quality air filters that fit in your normal filter slot. These are a good choice if your main problem is just a little extra pet dander or pollen making you feel stuffy. Though they do not completely clean air, they can catch a fair amount of contaminants. Generally, the higher the MERV rating on a filter, the better it is. Something of at least 8 is recommended for residential areas. HEPA filters are a type of very efficient filters. They tend to have a MERV rating of around 17 to 20, making them one of the highest-ranked types of air filters.
High Efficiency Air Cleaners
High-efficiency air cleaners are essentially an extra-thick, layered air filter. They use no electricity and just work from your HVAC system passing air over the filter, so they are very energy efficient. In addition to catching more particles than a standard one-inch-thick filter, they also have the perk of lasting longer. You only have to replace them every six to 12 months instead of needing to replace them every month. This is a useful choice if you want cleaner air than basic filtration can provide yet do not want to spend money or energy on an electronic cleaner. Just keep in mind that they may not fit with all types of HVAC systems due to their larger size.
Electronic Air Cleaners
These cleaners are connected to your heating and cooling system. As air passes through them, filters trap big particles of dust while electrically charged filters trap bacteria and mold. Electronic air cleaners tend to catch some things missed by a basic air filter, and they are continuously cleaning the air, so you can get a big boost in air quality with these cleaners. If you want cleaner air than a filter can give you but do not want to install a whole-home air cleaning system, this is a great choice.
Air Scrubber System
An air scrubber goes one step beyond basic air filtration. Instead of just trapping contaminants as air flows through it, the product actually scrubs your indoor air. Depending on the style you get, the machine may use wet scrubbing or dry scrubbing to remove chemicals, gases, and other extremely fine particles that cannot be caught with a filter. Air scrubber systems are often portable, though you can get ones that are installed directly into your HVAC system. They can cover thousands of square feet very quickly, but they are on the pricier side. You may want to rent one when dealing with things like mold remediation or paint fumes from a remodel. If you are very concerned with indoor air quality and have an extremely large house though, an air scrubber might be worth the investment.
UV Light Treatments
This is one of the most common products JW Plumbing, Heating and Air provides to Los Angeles clients as part of our indoor air quality services because it is effective and affordable. They work by exposing your air to a UV light that is strong enough to kill most microorganisms. You can attach a UV filter to your home’s HVAC system, or you can find UV treatments that are built into other electronic air cleaners. UV light treatments are a good option if you are worried about things like mold, mildew, fungus, and bacteria. They are especially useful in damp climates where these types of air pollutants flourish.
Indoor air quality is not just about removing pollutants. It is also about making sure the air feels comfortable and fresh as you breathe it in. One way of improving comfort can be a humidifier. These add moisture to the air through evaporation or steam. Typically, a humidifier is a good idea if your indoor air is regularly below 35% humidity. Signs you may need a humidifier include skin that feels dry, nasal congestion every morning, frequent nosebleeds, or chapped lips. Humidifiers are especially helpful if you live in a dry area with a wooden home and wooden furniture since low humidity can make wood shrink and crack as it dries out.
For some people, the key to better indoor air quality is actually the complete opposite of a humidifier. Though slightly damper air is easier to breathe, excessive dampness of more than 50% or so can cause problems. In addition to making it harder to breathe, high humidity can also encourage the growth of mold, mildew, and other things that harm indoor air quality. Your air conditioner itself will slightly dehumidify the air, but if your indoor air is still uncomfortably humid, you can get add-ons that remove even more water from the air. Since Los Angeles weather can be a little unpredictable, some people find that they need a dehumidifier during summer and a humidifier in the winter.
ERV and HRV Ventilation Systems
Indoor air pollutant levels are typically two to five times higher than outdoor levels. Therefore, a very effective way of improving air quality can just be replacing inside air with fresh outside air. In addition to having fewer VOCs and bacteria, outdoor air also smells fresher. ERV and HRV systems are types of ventilation that exchange air while reducing heating and cooling costs. They are ideal for newer homes that may be too airtight to otherwise get fresh air.
Duct Sealing and Upgrades
No matter how many air cleaners and ventilators you have, you might run into problems if you have duct leaks that are pulling dirty air in from your attic or crawl spaces. The best solution for this is getting an expert to conduct a duct leakage test and see how airtight your ducts are. Depending on your home, you may be able to just seal up a few loose areas, or you may want to consider replacing ducts. This type of indoor air quality product is a good choice if you want to improve efficiency and lower utility bills. In addition to helping keep your air cleaner, it also ensures you are not wasting all your heated and cooled air.
JW Plumbing, Heating and Air are here for all your indoor air quality needs in Los Angeles. We can test your current indoor pollution levels and help you find the right solutions for your house. Our company is also happy to offer all sorts of cooling and heating assistance as well as plumbing services to Los Angeles residents. A few of our other popular services include water heaters, smart thermostats, and zoning systems, water quality treatments, and much more. Give us a call now to schedule your free in-home estimate.