Home Air Filters, Particle Filtration and Filter Grilles – The Importance of Clean Healthy Air in Your Home
Home Air Filters, Particle Filtration and Filter Grilles are the key to maintaining clean, healthy air in your home. Beaux-Arts Classic Products has been manufacturing high quality filter grilles since 2006. This blog will provide you with everything you need to know to create clean healthy air in your home.
History of Air Filters
There has been a revolution in the use of HEPA particle filtration. HEPA is an acronym for “High Efficiency Particulate Air” filter. HEPA filters are pleated unlike earlier flat filters. The pleats increase the amount of area by about 80% over the old flat pink or blue filters. For instance, a 12″ x 12″ x 1″ HEPA filter has 1.8 square feet of filter area, instead of 1 square foot for the old flat filter. In addition, the synthetic filter material has smaller pores so it catches smaller particles further increasing it’s high efficiency particulate capture.
The history of HEPA filters started in World War II, when a captured German gas mask was examined by the British Army Chemical Corps. That German mask was able to efficiently filter high percentages of chemical smoke, better than British gas masks. The British industry duplicated the German mask and mass produced them for their own soldiers.
The British Army Chemical Corps then went one step further and made larger filters in combination with fan blowers to purify the air in military command centers. Their filters were made with cellulous-asbestos pleated paper. At the time, it was called an “absolute air filter”. This was the predecessor of the HEPA filter. It was technically the first “Air Purifier” made to keep the air in buildings healthy even during a gas attack.
In 1942, the name HEPA was assigned Top Secret status, as part of the Manhattan Project. Robert Oppenheimer and the 90,000 American, British and Canadian scientists and engineers, needed a way to protect themselves from airborne radioactive isotopes in the laboratories. The US Army Chemical Corps recruited Nobel Laureate, Irving Langmuir, to test filters to capture radioactive particles as small as 3 microns. HEPA filters were improved dramatically during this period and protected the lives of those who participated in the Manhattan Project from 1942 to 1946.
HEPA Air Filter
After World War II HEPA Filters were used by high tech industries, such as the NASA Space Program, nuclear power plants, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and semiconductor manufacturing. The acronym, HEPA, became a registered trademark for highly efficient particulate air filters.
HEPA Filters were slowly introduced to the residential housing market in the United States beginning in the mid 1970’s. However, the higher cost of HEPA filters and general lack of knowledge of the importance of clean healthy air, hampered the acceptance of HEPA filters as a necessity.
In talking with clients, I am amazed at how many people still use washable, reusable filters, cut yourself filters, or cheap non-rated filters from local hardware stores. I tell them, if you can see through a filter, how can it catch small 1 micron particles? If you get a filter material that you cut to size yourself, it will probably end up being sucked up into the coil area, with most of the dirty air rushing by the filter. Using the wrong filter can seriously affect your families health and reduce the lifetime of your HVAC System.
Washable Aluminum Air Filter
Cut To Fit Air Filter
Air Filter Grilles
There are two functions for a filter in your HVAC system:
- Filters keep the coil in your air handler from getting dirty. Dirty coils degrade the efficiency of the system.
- Filters keep the air clean in your home, which will protect your family’s health.
Filters can either be inserted into the HVAC air handler or behind the large return grilles. If the large return grilles have a filter behind them, they need to open so the filter can be regularly cleaned. They are known as “Filter Grilles” because they are return grilles with filters. Filter Grilles have been used since the late 1990’s and have become increasingly popular every year. Beaux-Arts Classic Products manufactures the best filter grilles made today.
Beaux-Arts Classic Products Return Air Filter Grilles
More and more homes are being converted to filter grilles from the older return air grille with the filter located in your HVAC air handler. Our magnetic filter grilles are another quantum improvement for our 15 years of decorative grille production. We have eliminated the door as well as the unsightly hinges and latches and replaced them with the new Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets with 10 pounds of magnetic pull each to hold the door in place. Magnets never break or lose potency. So no hinges, latches or louvers. The only thing you see now is the beautiful “Functional Work of Art”, our 3-dimensional grille.
Craftsman Style Arts and Crafts Magnetic Filter Grille
Advantages of Filter Grilles
- Filter grilles spread a greater filter area throughout the house.
- Filter grilles keep the supply ducts clean between the filter grille and the air handler.
If you don’t have filter grilles you should have your supply ducts professionally cleaned every three years or so. If you haven’t had your supply ducts cleaned yet, take off your supply grilles and have a look, you might be shocked at the accumulation of dirt and dust buildup.
Remember the importance of clean and healthy air in your home is the primary responsibility of the filters in your HVAC system. So make sure you are using the best quality filters. Dirty supply ducts, and the cost of cleaning them is the driving force behind the growing popularity of filter grilles.
Most homeowners don’t even know that HVAC air filters have a rating system. In 1987 the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) created a scientifically based system to rate the effectiveness of filters. This Filter Rating system was given the acronym, MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, The MERV system is based upon laboratory testing on the filters ability to remove airborne dust particles by particle size.
Small particles are measured in micrometers or one millionth of a meter. Just to help understand how small a 10 micron dust mite really is, the width of human hair is between 100 to 150 microns wide. The MERV system is set up to measure particles between .3 microns and 10 microns, which are all incredibly small specs, barely visible if at all. Most of the harmful particles in your homes air supply are between 15 and .3 microns.
MERV Rating System for Air Filters
MERV 1-4 Rated Filters capture harmful particles that are larger than 10 microns which includes pollen, dust mites, cockroach debris, spray paint dust, textile fibers and carpet fibers. MERV 1-4 Rated Filters are generally only recommended for residential window air conditioning units.
MERV 5-8 Rated Filters capture harmful particles under 10 microns but larger than 3 microns include mold, spores, dust mite debris, cat and cog dander, hair spray, fabric protector, dusting aids and pudding mix. MERV 5-8 Rated Filters are generally recommended for residential, commercial and industrial HVAC systems.
MERV 9-12 Rated Filters capture harmful particles under 3 microns but larger than 1 micron include Legionella, humidifier dust, lead dust, milled flour, automobile exhaust, nebulizer droplets. MERV 9-12 Rated Filters are generally recommended for superior HVAC HVAC systems in residential, commercial and hospital labs.
MERV 13-16 Rated Filters capture harmful particles under 1 micron but larger than .3 micron includes bacteria, sneeze droplets, cooking oil, most smoke, insecticide dust, makeup powder, and paint pigments. MERV 13-16 Rated Filters are generally recommended for hospital, operating rooms, industrial paint booths.
MERV 17-20 Rated Filters capture harmful particles under .3 microns includes, viruses, carbon dust, sea salt and the smallest smoke particles. MERV 17-20 Rated Filters are generally recommended for electronics and pharmaceuticals clean rooms and other high tech manufacturing clean rooms.
Clear Healthy Air in Your Home
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that indoor air quality in your home or office has levels of air pollutants that are 200% to 500% more than the outside air. You may think that the air inside your home or office looks and smells clean but many homeowners are not aware that only High Efficiency Particulate (HEPA) Air Filters can create clean and healthy air inside your Home. The use of inexpensive unrated air filters put your family’s health at risk, since they cannot capture dangerous and harmful particles that cause allergies, asthma, and flu and virus transmission.
Currently the highest HEPA filter rating that is recommended for most HVAC systems is the MERV 8 Filter. Because the MERV 8 Filter is the best combination of capturing particles and still operating adequate air-conditioning and heating which is the main function of an HVAC system.
A filter rated MERV 8 will capture 84.9% of the harmful airborne containment particles between 3 microns and 10 microns. Although this is significant, the reason that MERV 8 is the highest rated HEPA filter is due to the air flow requirements of most standard HVAC systems.
In order to capture minute airborne particles, the airflow slows down when traveling through the HEPA synthetic filter material. This slow down of air flow is due to a pressure drop since the air has difficulty making it’s way through HEPA filters especially when dirty. A new clean MERV 8 filter, has a calculated pressure drop of 0.14. As it gets dirty, the pressure drop rises accordingly. So it is extremely important to change filters, when dirty. Most HEPA filters recommend changing filters every three months.
If a higher rated filter like a MERV 13 Filter was used on a standard HVAC system then the air pressure would drop and so would the ability to heat or cool the air. The initial pressure drop for a MERV 13 new clean filter is 0.27, almost twice as much pressure drop as a MERV 8.
New HVAC “superior” systems can use MERV 13 filters, because they are designed to. HVAC systems are rated by the SEER system (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) also developed by ASHRAE to rate the cost effectiveness of HVAC Systems. An older HVAC system with a SEER rating of 10 may cost $400 to operate during a hot summer month, while a newer system with a SEER 20 rating would cost about $200, since it is more efficient. A SEER 20 HVAC System would also have better more powerful compressors and blowers as standard equipment. Superior HVAC’s frequently include larger filters to diminish the pressure drop when using MERV 13 filters. When filter grilles are used, the plenum and the filter are both oversized to allow the use of larger MERV 13 filters. Using MERV 13 filters to capture 3 micron particles is 100% effective, and for 0.3 microns it is 85% effective. If you have an HVAC system installed in the last few years you should call the installing company and ask about upgrading MERV 13 filters to clean your air. They may be able to make some minor adjustments like installing a more powerful blower, or increasing the size or depth of the filters to help you upgrade to a MERV 13.
The recent Covid-19 pandemic brought to the forefront, indoor air pollution versus outdoor air pollution. Most all Covid-19 cases were spread indoors, due to poor indoor air quality. The early lockdowns actually increased contagion. Remember the cruise ship lockdown and the high rate of deaths. As it turned out, cruise ships had air-conditioning systems that spread the virus from cabin to cabin, and deck to deck. The solution was to install air purifiers with HEPA filters rated MERV 16 and higher. You have probably seen smaller air purifiers capable of purifying the air in a small room. An air purifier consists of two basic parts, a HEPA filter and a blower. The blower forces the air away from the back of the filter, creating a vacuum. The air on the front of the filter replaces the lack of air in the vacuum and small particles are captured on the front of the filter.
Future of Air Filters, Particle Filtration and Filter Grilles
In the future homes will have both HVAC systems and an air purifying system, so that you can use extremely high rated filters. It is a system with just one objective to filter the air with extremely high MERV filters.
A full home air purifying system could also have a reversible blower so during the summer months it brings the hot air down to the cool basement and in the winter it brings the cold air up from the lower levels to the upper levels. It can act as a way to balance the air and filter it at the same time.
All you need is one large duct from the top of the house to the bottom of the house with a reversible fan blower in the middle. There would be a filter grille at the top and bottom of the house and regularly changing filters. Following these improvements will have a dramatic impact on your family’s health. What will happen is you will have more grilles.
Beaux-Arts Classic Products make Functional Works of Art for heating and air conditioning vent covers to replace those ugly white louvered filter grilles. The standard white louvered filter grilles are a low cost solution to your problem. However, they are cheaply made in foreign countries and poorly designed. They are also prone to problems such as broken latches and bent hinges, which makes the door impossible to close.
Our NEW magnetic quick change filter grille is so easy. You can replace filters in less than 2 minutes. You will receive two pieces of mesh screen, one to put in your magnetic filter grille to turn the filter black and one to go over the new filter at replacement time. Then you can rinse the dirty screen in your utility room sink and store with your extra filters for the next filter change.
Beaux-Arts Classic Products’ filter grilles are the finest available anywhere. They out perform the typical “White Louvered Filter Grille” in overall cubic feet per minute (CFM’s) airflow as well as noise calculation (NC). While louvers may actually help move air around the room on supply grilles, they serve no function on return air vents and filter grille returns. Any time air is forced to navigate around all those white louvers, it slows down. So if you are looking for an up-scale filter grille, please check ours out. They are currently available in three unique styles, French Style Louis XIV, Craftsman Style Arts & Crafts and Empire style Magnetic Filter Grilles.