Air Filtration vs. Air Cleaning: Learning the Difference Between Them

Air Filtration vs. Air Cleaning: Learning the Difference Between ThemDon’t make the mistake of confusing two key indoor air quality concepts – air filtration and air cleaning. While filtering indoor air is a relatively simple process that may involve anything from basic filtering to high-efficiency air filtration, air cleaning or purifying usually employs more sophisticated technology to comprehensively scrub indoor air of allergens, bacteria, and other contaminants.

How Does Each One Work?

Air filtration. Think of that flat-panel fiberglass filter that fits into a slot near where your home’s forced-air heating and cooling system’s ductwork connects with the furnace or air handler. Before air is pulled into the equipment, the filter removes solid particulates, which then collect on the filter. (You’ll want to regularly inspect and change or clean the filter). The main job of a standard air filter is to remove relatively large dust particles from the air so they don’t end up settling on sensitive furnace or air handler components. This allows your heating or cooling system to operate more efficiently and reduces the chance of breakdowns. Air filters do come in higher-efficiency models that also help improve indoor air quality by removing ever smaller particles from the air. However, the denser filtration media in a high-efficiency filter may impede system airflow. This is something you want to avoid.

Air cleaning. Households that include occupants who are vulnerable to allergies and other respiratory conditions, or otherwise have special concerns about indoor air quality, should consider an air cleaning system. The best air cleaners are whole-house models that are connected to your heating and cooling system. Usually employing more than one technology (e.g., HEPA filtration, electrostatic attraction, ultraviolet lights, etc.), a whole-home air cleaner will remove more than 99 percent of contaminants from the air as it moves through your forced-air system.

Though an air filter can mimic this performance, optimum air filtration may be achieved at the cost of system efficiency and performance, as your HVAC equipment struggles to push air through the denser filtering media.

Additionally, you should always consider cleaning the ductwork prior to installing any air cleaning device to ensure that you start out with a fully cleaned HVAC system.

For help deciding how to improve air quality in your Peachtree City or Newnan area home, please contact us at Powers Heating & Air.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree City, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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