The Heat Is On
Things are heating up, and your building’s AC unit is going to get a workout this summer. Staying cool is important, but so too is breathing clean air. So don’t ignore changing that dirty AC filter! Why? Read on and your maintenance crew will have that ladder out in no time to change the filter ASAP.
For commercial or educational facilities the importance of a well-maintained HVAC unit that functions properly can’t be overstressed. It can mean the difference between staff and students being exposed to allergens or airborne illnesses or staying healthy and productive.
Change the Filter, Save Big
It’s pretty simple: An AC unit that runs on a dirty filter will cost you more. As anyone with an AC unit knows, the air conditioner automatically cycles on and off throughout the day. But a dirty air filter can cause the unit to “short cycle,” or run more frequently and less effectively, adding dollars to your monthly bill and wasting energy.
Going further, not replacing a dirty AC filter can ultimately cause some pretty significant mechanical issues, which will also add up down the line. A new, clean filter allows cool air to flow freely, while a dirty AC filter will cause the cooled air to build up in the unit, lowering its internal temperature and potentially even causing ice crystals to collect on the coils.
Maintenance is crucial to the lifespan of your AC unit. With regular monthly filter replacement, you’ll eliminate the buildup of dust and dirt inside the unit, preventing additional wear and tear and keeping it running smoothly. Forking over $50 to $100 for a good-quality filter is almost certainly preferred over shelling out anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for a new HVAC unit!
Bottom line: Change the filter.
All Filters Are Not Created Equally
When it comes to choosing the right filter for your unit, there are a number of different types, each with a different price point. In general, the job of any filter no matter its price is to filter out things such as dust, pollen, pet dander, and any other particulate matter that you could breathe in.
To understand a filter’s efficiency at doing so, you’ll want to check out its minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, rating. These ratings are on a scale from 1 through 20, with lower numbers indicating the least amount of efficiency. So the higher the MERV rating, the better the filter is at capturing all those particles.
Common types of AC filters include:
Fiberglass: These disposable filters are the least expensive type and cause less strain overall on your HVAC unit when drawing air in. They do a good job of keeping larger particles out of the system but may not be ideal for those with allergies or other respiratory issues.
Pleated: A step up in terms of pricing over the fiberglass filters, pleated filters are typically either cotton or polyester and those with more folds will filter more efficiently. These are great for filtering out smaller particles, such as pollen, mold spores, and pet dander.
HEPA: High-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters are recommended for anyone with allergies or respiratory issues. While more expensive, they are the most effective at filtering out up to 99 percent of dust, pollen, mold, dander, viruses, bacteria, and other irritants.
UV: This type of filter is typically built into your HVAC system and uses ultraviolet light to actually kill viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms, though they are less effective at capturing dust and other particulates.
Filters are either disposable or reusable. In terms of efficacy, reusable or washable filters generally fall lower on the MERV rating scale, while disposable filters are known for superior performance. If you do have a reusable one, you should clean it monthly. When you do so:
- Use care when handling the filter to keep it in optimal working condition
- Remove it from the unit
- You can gently scrub the filter with a soft brush and a bit of detergent
- Rinse thoroughly with water
- Air dry completely before reinserting back into your unit; putting it back in with any moisture on it can lead to ice formation
If your HVAC unit uses disposable filters, make sure that you get replacements that are made for your specific system.
AC Systems for Commercial or Educational Facilities
Keeping clean air flowing inside commercial or educational facilities should never be an afterthought. In addition to maintaining a comfortable temperature, an HVAC unit should work to keep indoor air quality clean and healthy for students and employees.
In fact, when it comes to schools, in particular, there are acceptable air quality standards that are built into state and local building codes. Additionally, for schools, it is recommended to use air filters with a MERV rating of between 8 and 13 at least.
And for businesses, maintaining healthy indoor air quality can’t be overstated. According to the EPA, the air inside the average building is roughly five times as polluted as outside air. This means potential exposure to allergens, airborne illnesses, and subsequent sick days, all of which impact a company’s budget.
Common pollutants and sources of poor indoor air quality in both commercial and educational buildings can include:
- Contaminants from outside, such as exhaust or smoke
- Particulate matter
- VOCs from construction
- Cleaning products
All of these can be managed well with a clean, properly functioning HVAC system with regularly changed or cleaned filters. Other factors that contribute to vastly improved air quality in your building include:
Humidity control: Dehumidifiers and the right HVAC system will keep humidity at bay, which contributes to the growth of mold and fungi and keeps your indoor environment more comfortable, too.
Air cleaning devices: In addition to properly maintained HVAC units with clean filters, adding commercial-grade air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers can help significantly in controlling any viruses, bacteria, and chemicals from indoor air.
Source control: One of the most effective ways to improve air quality is to understand where pollutants come from. For instance, keep any pollution-producing equipment near ventilated areas only.
Ventilation: Be sure that new air can enter the building, to keep air flowing and giving any airborne contaminants a way out of the building.
No-Hassle Clean Air: Mobile Modular Air Care Solutions
Need to improve indoor air quality in your classroom or office but don’t know where to start? Leave it to us. Mobile Modular Air Care Solutions let you breathe easy knowing it’s all taken care of. Our team of specialists will help you find the right solution for your particular needs:
Basic and Plus Filter Replacement Programs: With our hassle-free HVAC Filter Replacement Program, we stay on top of it for you with regularly scheduled premium air filter replacements shipped to you automatically and completely FREE.
And when you choose our Plus program, our expert service techs will inspect your unit quarterly and clean the HVAC coils annually.
Contact us today to get started and have one less thing to think about!