Our air cleaners remove contaminants and particles from the air at a much higher efficiency than an air filter because they are active instead of passive (mechanical). Our filters have to be hooked up to electricity in order to generate a slight electrostatic charge, which attracts particles as they flow across the filter. In most cases, the air cleaner will fit right in the filter rack on your system, so it’s the same size as a traditional filter but much more efficient. Unlike freestanding room units that only pull air from a close proximity, air cleaners filter the air going through every room of the house. (The air changes in your home multiple times a day as it’s pulled through the return system.)
Outdoor vs. Indoor Air
Most people don’t realize that indoor air is on average five times worse for you than outside air. The main reason is because ozone and the sun’s radiation act as the earth’s natural disinfectants, killing both germs and odors. If you’ve ever noticed a distinct smell after an electrical storm, that’s the elevated level of ozone that was generated from the lightning. You’ll also smell it in hospitals because they use ozone as a disinfectant. At the residential level, we have the opportunity to use ozone to kill organic material and remove cooking, smoking, and pet odors from your home. If you have new carpet or furniture giving off gas/odors, it can help with that as well.
Is an Air Cleaner Worth the Cost?
When determining whether the overall cost of an air filter is worth it for your home, think about how it will affect your health and the longevity of your HVAC system. The long-term costs associated with owning an air cleaner include regular replacement of the filter in the filtration system. Although you might think the filter needs to be replaced more often because it removes so much more from the air, that’s not the case—the replacement schedule is similar to a traditional hardware store filter. The light bulbs in the UV systems that generate ozone last about two years, so they also have to be changed on a regular basis.
Air cleaners make your home’s air as clean and safe as possible. If you don’t have a filter that removes particles from the air, your lungs will have to pick up the slack. To learn more about the best options for your home, get a hold of Boulden Brothers today by giving us a call or contact us online.
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Most people tend to underestimate the importance of filtration in their HVAC system. A neglected unit with a filter that has been in place for too long will eventually begin to resemble a large dust bunny. The efficiency of the filter has increased to the point that air can no longer flow through it at all, which is extremely damaging to your heating and cooling system. It would be equivalent to the difference between breathing through your shirt and breathing through a thick pillow. Don’t let it get to the point where your system is starving for air. It’s extremely easy and fast to replace the filter on a regular basis, as long as you’re adequately prepared. Here’s what you need to know in order to properly care for your HVAC system’s filtration.
First, you’ll have to make sure you know the size of the air filter for your unit. The grille/grate in most homes in our area (Delaware) contain a slide-in filter and are located right next to the unit. This isn’t the case 100% of the time, so you might need to find out exactly where your filter is located. Once you’ve found it, simply pull out the filter that’s in your system and look on the side. If the size isn’t marked there, just use a tape measure.
Once you know the correct size, the more difficult decision comes from how much you want to pay and what efficiency you’re looking for. Filters range in price from a few dollars up to $20 or more. The ones that cost a few dollars are like throwing a handful of pebbles at a chain link fence—it will knock some of the larger debris away, but most of the smaller particles will get through. Those small particles will end up on either the blower motor or on the air conditioner coil, impacting the efficiency and longevity of the system.
On the opposite end of the price spectrum, there are HEPA grade filters similar to those that are used in a hospital. You have to be very careful when selecting these, though, because they require the assistance of a professional. These filters are likely to restrict airflow, negatively impact performance, and shorten the life of the unit. Fortunately, these HEPA filters aren’t found in the filter rack at the hardware store due to their specialty application. (HEPA filters usually pull air directly from/through the ductwork itself.)
Once you select a suitable filter for your HVAC system, the best thing to do is adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations about how often it needs to be changed. Then buy a 6 or 12 month supply so that you’ll be prepared once it’s time to change out the filter. (Boulden Brothers sends out email reminders to let you know when it’s time.) If you already have the filter on hand and ready to go, replacement will only take a couple of minutes to perform. Just make sure that the filter is slid all the way in so that no air can flow around it. Some filters have an arrow indicating the direction that air should flow, so make sure it’s housed facing the proper orientation. Close the filter door, throw away the old filter, and you’re ready to go.
High efficiency filtration can have health benefits for the family, especially if people suffer from asthma or allergies. If you have any questions about what’s best for your HVAC system’s filtration, give us a call or contact us online. We have electrostatic filters, for example, that generate a small electric charge. They are highly efficient and don’t have a large negative impact on airflow. Our technicians are always happy to talk to homeowners about the ways that they can increase the life and efficiency of their system.
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There are some common situations when it’s a good idea to call an HVAC technician. Here are a few to consider:
You should call an HVAC technician to perform maintenance on a regular basis. If you look in the owner’s manual for the heating equipment installed in your home, you’ll see that the manufacturer suggests routine maintenance, especially if the system is under warranty. Just like with the oil changes for a car, an HVAC manufacturer will void the warranty if maintenance isn’t performed. Routine maintenance is important for the longevity of the system, to make sure it is operating efficiently, and so the manufacturer can’t void any warranty claims.
Although manufacturers may not state an exact timeframe, we recommend that you perform maintenance on the heating and cooling system once a year. We could do it in two visits, separately in spring and fall, or we can do both the heating and cooling system at the same visit to save you from having to take more time off work (which many of our clients prefer). This routine maintenance is covered in our club membership.
Proactive Component Replacement
Sometimes a minor component failure can lead to a major component failure later on. Because many components in an HVAC system (like contractors or ignitors) are susceptible to failure, we can check them out and make sure that they are operating within specified levels. By proactively replacing these items, your system will be more reliable, have a longer life, and be much safer to operate.
One way to determine that a component is operating incorrectly is if it’s making a strange noise. It helps to pay attention to the regular sounds that your HVAC system will make during the course of a day during heating or cooling season. If the system is making an abnormal sound, it could be a red flag indicating that something is wrong. Remember, HVAC systems won’t fix themselves over time. Getting us out quickly can save you money from having to spend more on a larger repair.
Energy Bill Fluctuations
If you have a heat pump that isn’t operating correctly, the electric resistance heat will kick on immediately. Even though it’s 100% efficient, it is very expensive to operate, so you will notice a drastic increase in energy usage. Air conditioners usually experience a very gradual decrease in efficiency, so it will be much more difficult to see its impact in the energy bill.
Thanks to improved technology, newer thermostats now allow homeowners to be alerted that something is starting to operate outside of specifications. Pay attention to what these thermostats are saying, and call an HVAC technician if anything is out of the ordinary.
What To Do Before Calling a Technician
Regular filter replacement is critical to the proper operation of an HVAC system. Restricted airflow will damage the system and drastically reduce its efficiency. Make sure you are replacing the filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Before calling a technician, you might want to make sure that a breaker hasn’t been tripped in the basement and that the batteries in the thermostat are still in good condition. According to code, all houses must have an emergency switch. For most homes in our area the switch is located at the top of the basement stairs. Make sure that nobody has hit that emergency switch because it will shut off power to your system.
If you’re facing one of these common situations and you need the assistance of a professional, give us a call or contact us online.