Low indoor air quality is a problem that can affect us here in Southern California around the year. With our houses so well insulated against outside heat—a necessity considering our long hot seasons and heat spells during other parts of the year—too many contaminants from indoor sources start to build up without escape. Building materials, cleaning products, hobby products, cosmetics, and exhaust from appliances all are sources of indoor pollution. Standard air filters can trap larger particles, but for many smaller ones, the filters need to be paired with electronic air purifiers, i.e. air cleaners.
There’s no single type of air purifier. They can work through a variety of methods. Here are three ways an air purifier can operate to clean your home’s air:
The most common type of whole-house air purifier uses ionization to remove small airborne contaminants. The purifier generates a corona discharge inside a section of the ductwork where air must pass. The ions from the corona discharge attach themselves to the molecules passing through the field; the molecules either pick up an extra electron, giving them a negative charge, or lose an electron, developing a positive charge. The particles are then drawn out of the air toward one of two charged metal plates on the purifier. Some of the particles will attract each other, becoming heavier and settle out of the air.
Ionizers are easy to care for. They only need to have their collecting plates routinely removed and cleaned. They are effective at trapping many tiny particles, such as odor/gas molecules and volatile organic compounds, that often move through standard filters. The ionization air purifier and mechanical air filter combination is an excellent whole-house IAQ solution.
Another type of purifier that has become popular is the ozone generator. These purifiers work in a process similar to the ionizers, except they change molecules of oxygen into ozone by adding extra oxygen molecule (ozone is made up of three oxygen molecule). These air purifiers have a deodorizing property that is beneficial for some homes.
The word “radiation” is a bit scary, but in this case, we’re talking about the emission of ultraviolet radiation—i.e. the same radiation you receive from the sun. UV radiation is harmful to organic material, which is why you develop a sunburn if you stay out too long in the sun. What a UV air purifier does with ultraviolet radiation is to direct small amounts of it using lights to a section of the HVAC system, usually the coil of the air conditioner. These small amounts of UV radiation aren’t enough to harm people or pets (and they’re hidden away inside the ducts anyway) but they cause disruption to cellular material in microorganisms and mold spores. This either prevents the pollutants from reproducing, rendering them inert, or kills them outright.
Since UV air purifiers are designed to counteract biological pollutants and won’t affect other types of particles moving through the ducts, they aren’t the right choice for all homes.
To find out what type of air purifier in San Bernardino, CA (or air purifiers) is the right match for combating indoor air pollution in your house, contact our IAQ specialists.
Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning has offered great AC service since 1980.