A Guide to Indoor Air Quality

It shocked many Americans in 2016 when the Environmental Protection Agency announced its findings on indoor air quality. It found that the average homes were two to five times more polluted than the outside air. Fungal spores, smoke, cooking residue, carbon monoxide, pet dander, and chemicals are known to be harmful to your health. Unfortunately, the list doesn’t end there. Radon gas and chemicals in paints, varnishes, cleaners, air fresheners, and some construction materials are other dangers. Since these findings were announced, manufacturers have been working diligently to reduce volatile organic compounds in most of their products.

The modern construction of energy-efficient homes has resulted in reduced exchange of air, and higher levels of indoor air pollution. There are solutions to combat the poor air quality in your home, and they will be discussed here.

Indoor Air Quality

Millions of Americans suffer from respiratory diseases and health conditions related to them. Illnesses like COPD, asthma, allergies, and lung damage related to Covid 19 and other illnesses. Poor air quality in the home can affect those suffering from respiratory illness, and others, and worsen their condition. The Covid pandemic has highlighted the importance of indoor air quality and its effects on your health.

At the beginning of the pandemic, sterilizing contact surfaces was encouraged. As time went on, the prevalence of airborne transmission was recognized. This can be said of many diseases as well, influenza, chicken pox, measles, and whooping cough to name a few. The solution to improving air quality, and reducing pollutants and airborne illness begins with air filtration. It’s a solution hospitals have long known, being the first to utilize HEPA filters to reduce airborne diseases. Let’s look at air filters and some of the specifics for each.

MERV Ratings

A MERV rating is the minimum efficiency reporting value. The rating is a measure of how effective an air filter is. MERV is a ranking system that measures a filter’s success in capturing pollutants in your home. Generally, filters with lower MERV ratings only capture the larger particles. Whereas, those with higher ratings capture both large and smaller particles. The size of smaller particles a particular air filter will capture depends on its rating on a 20-point scale. The most effective filter will capture particles that are too small to see – as small as 0.3 microns. Residential air filters are typically between 5-16. Filters with a MERV rating of 1-4 only contain the largest particles and are the minimum accepted. Higher-rated air filters are required to capture dust, mold bacteria, and other small particles.

The next MERV rating is 5-8. These air filters are better for residential use than MERV 1-4. However, they have their limitations. They capture pollutants that are in the 3-micron size and above.  They capture aerosol sprays, dust, and mold, but are incapable of capturing bacteria and viruses.

MERV 9-12 filters are in the third category of air filtration and are considered superior. They capture particles as small as 1.0 micron.

The top MERV Filters

MERV 13-16 filters are considered the best and are ideal for indoor spaces. These air filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns. This is considerably smaller than a MERV 8 filter can capture. The particles captured by a MERVE13-16 include bacteria, viruses, and smoke. They provide a tremendous difference in the air quality of your home. This group offers the best option for homes for those HVAC systems that can use them. Often this means MERV 13 is the better choice depending on your home’s HVAC system. When you use the right air filter for your HVAC system it will provide the cleanest air possible.

MERV factors above these are typically used in industrial and health care settings and include HEPA filters. Only HVAC systems designed for them can safely utilize them.  Additionally, due to their thickness not just any HVAC system can pull air through them. This results in reduced airflow, potential overheating, and premature wear and tear on your residential heating and air conditioning system.

Air Purifiers

If breathing cleaner air in your home is a priority for you, a whole-house air purifying can provide it. This is especially important when family members suffer from respiratory issues. A whole-house air purifier cleans the air in your home with bi-polar ionization. The purifier releases both negative and positive ions into your home’s air through the HVAC system. Once released the ions attach to pollutants, including viruses. Once attached to the pollutant, the particle is made larger and is then captured by the air filter.

An air purifier removes pollutants, allergens, and toxins from the air in your home. This helps reduce the spread of airborne diseases, reduce odors, and make breathing easier, especially for those with respiratory problems.

A HEPA air purifier utilizes a high-efficiency particulate-absorbing filter. This ensures that the purifier holds captured particulates and doesn’t release them back into the home’s airflow. HEPA filters trap 99 percent of airborne particles .3 microns and larger.

Unfortunately, not all HVAC systems can accommodate a HEPA filter. Usage in a system not designed for HEPA filtration can result in poor performance and even permanent damage. Additionally, contact your HVAC manufacturer, or ask your technician if you are unsure.

Air Purification for a better Indoor Air Quality

You may wonder just how effective it can be? The following lists some of the benefits of a whole-house air purifier installed into your HVAC system:

  • Traps viruses and bacteria to help prevent the spread of illness, including Covid 19
  • Captures dust and dust mites and other allergens
  • Traps pet dander
  • Removes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air inside your home
  • Neutralizes smoke
  • Helps to remove odors

Carbon Activated Filtration

If VOC, smoke, and odors are your primary concern, a carbon-activated filtration system may be right for you. Contaminants are trapped in the carbon as air is pulled through the filter.

Ultraviolet Light Air Purifier

Ultraviolet light is frequently used with HEPA air purifiers. The UV technology of this system kills tiny microorganisms that move through your HVAC system as air is drawn in.

Electrostatic Air Purifiers

Some HVAC air purifiers also contain electrostatic fields that capture microscopic particles like bacteria and viruses. Electrostatic air purifiers use static electricity to clean the air. As air flows through static prone fibers, an electrostatic charge is created.

Metro Express Service can provide you with better indoor air quality within your home. Whatever your goals, we offer a solution. Call us today to schedule the installation of an in-home air purifier, a replacement HVAC system, or other HVAC needs. Our highly trained and dedicated technicians will provide superior quality installation, maintenance, or repair needs.


Randy Murphy

Randy Murphy has been building his knowledge of the air conditioning and heating business for several years now. He first started applying his knowledge while working for his father’s HVAC company. Later, in 1987, Randy started his own business: Metro Express Service. He has been a top 10 Trane & Amana dealer for over eight years. When it comes to heating and cooling, Randy knows the business better than anyone.
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