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user-831496 | Posted in General Questions on

I am chemically sensitive and building a well insulated new home using as many low voc products as possible. The HVAC contractor installed an Aprilaire 8100 ERV. I think we should have also installed an air cleaner. Am I right?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    The term "air cleaner" is not a technical term, and it includes a wide variety of products, some of which are useful, and some of which are fraudulent scams.

    Your ERV includes an air filter. Be sure you understand the maintenance requirements for cleaning your air filter. Unless you have specific complaints about your indoor air quality, I think you are all set.

    Of course, there are many possible sources of pollution in a house, including tobacco smoke, cleaning products, and hobby activities. If you have an IAQ problem, an "air cleaner" is rarely the solution. Rather, lifestyle adjustments and point-source exhaust are more likely to be helpful.

  2. BobHr | | #2

    Be aware that electronic air cleaners produce ozone. Thus you could be introducing a harmful gas into your living environment.

    HVAC systems are made to heat and cool the air. Furnace filters should fit the design parameters of your system. A filter is a balance of air flow and filtering. The more filtering the less air flow. A MERV 8-10 fitter is usually a good balance. The best fiters on the market are to restrictive and get worse as they get dirty. We sell a muti-layer filter that progressively filters. It helps maintain air flow which allows the furnace to work effiecienty.

    A tight house controls how much unwanted dirty air gets in. Good ventilations gets rid of the accumulation of indoor sources of pollution. That along with the proper furnace filter should be the starting point for indoor air quality. After that you can start looking at other objectives.

    A good room air purifier will have a HEPA filter that filters out smaller particles that are left by the furnace filter. A side benefit is that many have a charcoal filter that traps gases. The problem with some purifiers is that they have little charcoal and may require frequent changes. That is why we sell Austin Air. They have either 7.5 or 15 pounds of high grade activated charcoal. It can last up to 5 years. Plus the 5 year cost is lower.

    Room air purifiers use small amounts of electricity and can be left on for longer periods of time. Running the HVAC fans all day uses a lot of electricty and will end up costing more than the cost of a room air purifier. You will get cleaner air and lower cost with the purifier.

    Drywall and concrete dust will pass through a furnace filter. A HEPA filter will will remove drywall dust.

    Bypass HEPA filters for the HVAC ony filter part of the air and ony when the systems is running,

    Another step is to add UVC light. UVC does not create any byproducts but kills airborne germs, viruses, mod etc. They don't replace a media filter but work along with it. UVC lights can provide benefits to asthma and allergy sufferers. The reduction of living air-borne organisms is beneficial to many people.

    I do not recommend air cleaners that produce ozone. Ozone is a caustic gas that does not have a place in occupied buildings. Some air cleaners tout their ability to clean the air with ozone. Others hide it with buzz words such as super oxygenated air or other buzz words. Then there are the ionizing air cleaners that give the dirt a charge and let it collect on yours walls, floor, drapes etc. Consumers reports did a report a few years ago and found they do not work plus they produce ozone. In a small room the ozone can build up to high levels.

    It is up to the consumer to pick out what is right for them. The only way to do that is be informed. I help educate them and let them make a decision.

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