How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air Cleaning

If you’re concerned about maintaining indoor air quality in your home, it’s important to understand the difference between air filtration and air cleaning. While all forced-air heating and cooling systems have some form of air filtration, not all households have dedicated air cleaning systems. If you have family members who are susceptible to allergies or respiratory ailments, you’ll want to consider an air cleaning system.

First it helps to understand how basic air filtration works in an HVAC system. In most households, this involves a cheap, flat-panel fiberglass (or other synthetic) filter that goes into a slot in your furnace compartment, usually where the ductwork attaches. Before air is drawn into the furnace or A/C for conditioning, the filter removes some proportion of the solid particulates in that air. However, the main purpose of a low- or standard-efficiency air filter is to protect HVAC components rather than clean indoor air.

This doesn’t mean that higher-efficiency air filtration can’t achieve cleaner and healthier air. High-efficiency HVAC filters can remove the vast majority of airborne particulates. This is accomplished with denser (or more) filtration media removing a wide range of contaminants, large and small. However, the denser filtration media also may restrict airflow. Adverse effects may include wasted energy, stressed system components, and uneven heating and cooling. A forced-air system can be modified to work with a high-efficiency filter, though this may be costly. Consider a whole-house air cleaning system instead.

A whole-house air cleaner is connected directly to your HVAC system, and like an air filter treats all of the air that circulates through that system. But rather than simply capturing airborne particulates with fiberglass or some other filtration medium, an air cleaner typically employs a combination of technologies to clean the air. These might include ultraviolet light, electrostatic attraction or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filtration. A quality air cleaner can remove more than 99 percent of the particulates in your indoor air.

To talk to a trained technician about cleaning or filtering the air in your home, please contact us at TRS A/C Services.

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