Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Air Filters vs. Air Purifiers: One Keeps You From Sneezing, The Other From Getting Sick.

Understanding the difference can help protect your family’s health this season.

A guest blog post by Tony Valentino, Director of Sales and Marketing, with Webb Supply, and the second article in our two-part series on home indoor air quality.

Once again another winter falls upon us and with that we start to close up our homes, at least in most parts of the country. Either way it’s time to start thinking of our heating systems to get ready for the season. If you’ve been thinking about your heating system at all (many do not), you’ve probably been thinking of changing the filter and maybe getting a proactive ‘tune up.’ 

Why do we do these things?  First, to help the system run optimally/efficiently.  Second, to preserve the unit’s lifespan.  And third, to help remove ‘bad stuff’ from the air in our home.  It’s this last dimension I’d like to focus on today.

Now that subject “indoor air quality” can be taken into many directions and can mean a number of different things to the average homeowner but, for this conversation I’m going to break it down into two areas: Air Filtration (aka Air Cleaning) and Air Purification.  Most people think these are the same thing, but they are very different.

Air Filtration (aka Air Cleaning) Methods

Let’s start with the most common, air filtration. A typical home or apartment has a forced air heating & cooling system, blowing conditioned air through ductwork and out air vents located in various rooms of the home. All these systems have some sort of air filter, whether it is the most basic filter you buy for a couple bucks at the local hardware store or, a more efficient air filter such as a media style or electronic air cleaner.
The primary purpose of any filter is to keep your heating and cooling system cleaner internally, maximizing it’s efficiency and in the process  will also help in reducing airborne particulate (dust, dander etc.) from being recirculated throughout the home.

No matter how efficient the filtration or, regardless of the cost to install, these units will only clean what the heating and cooling system brings back through it via the duct system.

Air Purification Methods

Air purification systems on the other hand, are designed for a different purpose with different results. Most common among these is the UV Light (Ultra Violet). Installed in the system ductwork, these units can be very effective at killing bacteria, molds and fungus but, will only destroy these organisms when in very close contact to the UV light for a determined amount of time.

One alternative to the standard UV light are units that use advanced oxidation technology (Photohydroionization). This utilizes a type of UV light technology to produce “friendly oxidizers” (Hydroperoxides) that travel through the air ducts to kill or reduce microbes and gases in the conditioned space. The best analogy to describe the difference is a mouse trap verses a cat: one waits for the mouse the other goes out and hunts for it.

The latest UV air purifiers that use this technology literally go throughout your home and ‘hunt down’ the bacteria, mold and fungus that can be making your family sick.

It’s difficult to describe in this short blog all of the different products on the market today but, what I can provide you is my personal and professional preference for indoor air quality. On typical forced air heating and cooling systems I recommend a media style air filter with a high Merv rating (this measures the filters effectiveness, the higher the number the higher the efficiency). In addition to this filter I would add a unit that utilizes photohydroionization to proactively kill microbes and purify the air in my entire home while keeping my ductwork free of these microorganisms.

Question for Tony?  Feel free to contact him at 216-289-7400 or tony.valentino@webbsupply.com


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fighting Sickness This Winter Begins At Home

A Two-Part Series on Indoor Air Quality for Healthy Lungs Month

In the battle to keep ourselves and families healthy, we often focus on the outward foes.  We scrub our hands like we’re prepping for surgery and use the paper towel to turn the faucet off.  We awkwardly use our shirt sleeves to open public doors.  We bathe ourselves in hand sanitizer throughout the day. And yet, despite these valiant efforts, many of us and our children will have respiratory illnesses this winter.

Because you spend most of your time in your home, according to the EPA and thousands of research studies, it’s very possible that it’s your home that’s making you sick.  As the doors and windows close up for the season, the impact of poor indoor air is magnified without the influx of fresh air.

Children are especially prone to the health effects of poor indoor air quality.

The rise in childhood respiratory issues is documented, growing, and alarming.  As we’ve reported previously, children are especially susceptible due to their developing systems and they breathe in more air per breath than we do.  The really scary part:  not only are the effects short term, like getting sick, but the impact can be long term, manifesting in asthma and other chronic issues.  For more details, check out this previous post from our blog titled "Children & Indoor Air Quality."

You can’t see, smell, taste or feel indoor air quality problems.

Well, at least not the real serious ones.  Sure, certain odors can be red flags but the most dangerous culprits are the ones you can never detect without professional testing. Chances are that you won’t know there is an air quality problem until someone in your family is suffering from persistent sinus problems, develops allergy symptoms, has difficulties breathing or some similar ailment. These are the tip-offs that there is an air quality problem lurking in your home.

Is your family’s health and your peace of mind worth a few hundred dollars?

Many people think indoor air quality testing is too expensive to be practical. Some types can be. But certain methods are non-destructive and can be done for less than $400. Pro Energy’s testing method falls in this category and tests for more than 400 air borne contaminants and mold VOCs.  Not only is there an increase in homeowners doing testing, but potential home buyers are now asking for air analysis prior to purchase.

Next Edition: What’s the difference between an air purifier and an air cleaner?