Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog


March 2022

6 Types of Air Filters and How to Choose the Right One

CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, discusses the 6 best air filters for homes and workplaces.

6 Types of Air Filters and How to Choose the Right One

Do you remember back in the day when you said "air filter" and everyone knew what you meant?

Then the pandemic happened.

Suddenly it feels like you need an encyclopedia and a dictionary just to pick an air filter!

Now we all want air filtration in our homes and at work. But we are all confused about which air filtration system to choose.

In this post, meet the six main types of air filters, learn what each one does and choose the right air filter for you.


What Is Air Filtration?

The place to start when talking about air filtration is always with a universal working definition.

What IS "air filtration," exactly?

Air filtration is the process of removing airborne solid PMs (particulate matter) from the air we breathe.

What Airborne Particles Should You Be Worried About?

Particulate matter is a major culprit for,

  • Eye and nose irritation
  • Skin issues
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lung disease and more!

There are five main types of airborne solid particulate matter that most of us worry about when it comes to respiratory health and air quality.

1. Chemical

The most common chemical particulate culprits come from the pesticide, herbicide and insecticide industries or the bulk chemical industries.

2. Mineral

Mineral solid particles may be generated by work sites or naturally through weather events and even natural erosion.

Crystalline silicate is one of the most common metallic particulates. Coal and cement are also common examples of particulate minerals.

3. Metallic

Metallic particulates can include nickel, cadmium, beryllium, lead and other potentially toxic airborne solids.

4. Organic

Organic solids can include:

  • Dust
  • Dust mites
  • Human hair
  • Skin flakes
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen
  • Flour
  • Tea and coffee
  • Wood
  • Dirt
  • Ash
  • Smoke

5. Biohazard

The biohazard category of solid airborne particles almost needs no explanation. And yet the virus that causes COVID-19 is not solid. It is a liquid.

Here, the biohazard solids we are concerned about include bacteria, mould, fungi microbes etc. Essentially any tiny, solid particle capable of carrying a liquid or gaseous passenger, such as a CoV-SARS-2 droplet.


Micron Rating for Air Filters

What is a micron? 

A unit of measurement.

Microns (sometimes also referred to as nanometers, which is a similar unit of measurement) become quite important when we are talking about air filter performance or air filtration system performance.

For example, how big (or small) is the virus that causes COVID-19? The overall droplet size ranges between 0.06 microns and 0.3 microns. The average droplet size is between 0.1 microns and 0.125 microns.

You may have heard that N95 masks filter out particles as small as 0.3 microns, which is larger than the sizes we just discussed. So how can N95 masks be effective at protecting against the airborne transmission of COVID-19?

It is because the droplet itself has to ride on a solid particulate to get from an infected person to a new host. This is what brings the average size up to around 0.3 microns and makes N95 masks an effective protective agent.

Keep these numbers in mind as we move into an overview of the six major air filter types so you can choose the type that best fits your needs.


Learn About 6 Major Types of Air Filters

Every day it seems like there is a new air filter or air filtration system on the market.

But underneath the hype, most of these systems and products will still find a home in one of these six major categories of air filters.

1. Pleated air filter

Pleated air filters, or pleated furnace filters, are made from cotton or polyester are a very common filter type used by most residential and commercial furnace systems. Typically pleated filters carry a MERV rating of between 5 and 13.

Pleated furnace filters are good at catching larger solid particulates.

Their main job is to keep these larger particles out of the inside of the furnace, where they could over time build up on the blower motor and fan blades, lowering efficiency and becoming a fire hazard.

2. Glass air filter

Glass air filters are arguably the most common furnace filters in use today.

Glass air furnace filters use fibreglass instead of pleats to do the same basic job, more affordably although somewhat less efficiently.

3. Media air filter

Media air filters are like amped-up pleated air filters. By increasing overall surface area, media filters can trap airborne particles inside the filter and trap more of them before needing to be replaced.

4. Electrostatic air filter

As the name suggests, electrostatic filters use static electricity as a magnet of sorts to attract and trap airborne solids. Both disposable and reusable types exist.

The downside is that electrostatic air filters do a better job of trapping very small particulates than they do of trapping larger common airborne irritants such as dust and ash.

5. HEPA filter 

What is a HEPA filter? 

The HEPA filter was first developed during World War II. Today's HEPA air filters stay true to the original technology and it still works just as well.

MERV 17 or higher filters have the same capacity as a HEPA filter for capturing solid particles sized 0.3 to 1 micron to a 99.97 percent efficiency.

6. Ultraviolet light air filters

UV light filters use a synthetic band of UV-C light to purify the air. This is often termed "germicidal radiation."

While UV light air filters are great for purifying the air of liquids and gases, they don't do as effective a job on solids.

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Is Your Hamilton Ontario Indoor Air Quality Expert

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions is proud to serve as an air quality leader, providing our residential and commercial customers with effective and affordable indoor air quality solutions.

Give us a call at 1-905-544-2470 or visit us online to ask a question, request a quote or schedule service.

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Is Your Indoor Air Making You Sick? Feel Better Fast With These Two Simple Steps

CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, discusses the importance of indoor air ventilation and humidification this spring.

Is Your Indoor Air Making You Sick? Feel Better Fast With These Two Simple Steps

Ever since news of the pandemic first leaked out, we have all breathed a little less comfortably...a little less deeply.

Why? Because the thought that the very air we are breathing could make us sick at any moment is really scary!

But the bright spot in what has now become a multi-year battle against COVID-19 is how much we have learned. We are beginning to arm ourselves against the invader. We are learning how to purify and clean our indoor air to no longer be a threat.

This week's blog post discusses two key components of our new indoor air purity protection strategy: humidity and ventilation.


Humidity Balance For Optimal Indoor Air Protection

One of the major players in our defensive strategy against airborne threats such as flu, COVID-19 and even the common cold is humidity.

We have learned that what we need is more humidity and not less.

Health officials tell us that humid air helps our body produce more protective mucous to protect airborne viral and microbial threats by trapping them before they can get into our lungs.

And COVID-19 researchers state that active airborne viral droplets die-off twice as fast when relative indoor air humidity is between 40 and 60 percent.


But how can you make sure that the humidity levels inside your home remain within this range consistently?

Consistent Humidity Is Easy With a Whole House Humidifier

The best way to keep your indoor humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent is to use a whole house humidifier.

A modern whole house humidifier is a sophisticated appliance that delivers humidity silently and evenly throughout your space.

But this high level of indoor humidity can come with its own set of challenges, including damage to home furnishings and the threat of mould and mildew.

So how can you safely increase your home's indoor air humidity without harm? Read on!

Safely Humidify Your Home With a Heat Recovery Ventilator

Ventilation and circulation are two words that are commonly mixed up. The two are complementary but not the same.

Air circulation refers to the movement of air throughout a space.

Ventilation refers to the influx of fresh air into a space and the corresponding outflow of stale air.

Ventilation can improve indoor air circulation for the air that is already inside a space.

Improved air circulation is commonly accomplished using ceiling or floor fans, open windows or doors, and even running the fan on your HVAC system (although this is not recommended for energy cost reasons).

But air circulation alone cannot address the need for a continual supply of fresh indoor air to move stale air and airborne toxins out.

This is why the key to safely increasing the humidity inside your home or workplace isn't as simple as air circulation to keep mould and mildew at bay.

What you need to safely humidify your indoor air is improved ventilation. The best way to accomplish this is to use a heat recovery ventilator. As a side benefit, a good ventilation system will also boost air circulation throughout your space.


How Ventilation and Humidification Work Together

Humidifiers on their own are a great asset. So are heat recovery ventilators for improved air circulation and replenishment of the fresh air supply in any space.

But as you now know, when you are trying to achieve a certain consistent indoor air humidity level safely, you really need to pair humidification with ventilation.

Together, these two make great indoor air quality partners.

With a whole house humidifier system, you can regulate the relative humidity levels in your indoor air to stay between 40 and 60 percent depending on your individual health needs and concerns.

Modern humidification systems can also keep your indoor environment stable and healthy no matter what the seasonal weather conditions may be like outside.

And with proper ventilation, you can make sure the humidity does not concentrate in certain areas, such as closets, bathrooms, laundry rooms or basements, which can lead to mould and mildew problems.


How to Add Humidification and Ventilation to Your Home

At this point you are probably wondering what is required to add a whole house humidifier and heat recovery ventilator to your home's indoor air quality toolkit.

If you have a central (ducted) HVAC system, we can simply add a whole house humidifier and a heat recovery ventilator that will work seamlessly together with your existing system.

Depending on your needs, you can choose a flow through humidifier that works with your furnace or a steam humidifier that works independently of your temperature control system.

Heat recovery ventilation options are very similar. Ducted HVAC systems can be easily retrofitted with an extra set of ducts and vents to work with a heat recovery ventilator.

If your home runs on ductless A/C and heat, the newest heat recovery ventilators do not require air ducts to ventilate each room in your space.

This compact HRV system takes up very little space and operates silently as the lungs of each room - keeping your indoor air fresh, clean and humidity balanced throughout the year.


Trust Shipton's CleanAir Solutions for All Your Ventilation and Air Quality Needs

Shipton's CleanAir Solutions is proud to be of service to our residential and commercial customers in Hamilton and surrounding areas for nearly a century now.

Indoor air quality needs are changing based on new airtight construction standards, new HVAC technology and the ongoing global pandemic. We know you are concerned and we want you to know we are here to help keep your family safe and healthy now and in the future.

Give us a call at 1-905-544-2470 or visit us online to ask a question, request a quote or schedule service.

SPRING PROMOTION: Save $50 on any whole house humidifier installation plus take 10 percent off any of our popular air duct cleaning services. Click here to claim your savings!

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HEPA Filter vs MERV Filter - Which Is Better for Your Indoor Air Quality?

CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, compare and contract a HEPA filter vs. a MERV filter.

HEPA Filter vs MERV Filter - Which Is Better for Your Indoor Air Quality?

Two years ago, the topic of air filtration rarely came up. And if you were talking about indoor air quality, you were probably just working in a related industry.

Today, all that has changed. Now, everyone is interested in filtering and purifying their indoor air. We realize that air quality is directly linked to health! It can even help protect us from coronavirus and many other airborne illnesses and pollutants.

But what isn't quite so clear yet is what does what. There is a whole new language to learn, complete with new acronyms and vocabulary!

In this post, we tackle one of the most common sources of indoor air quality confusion. A MERV filter vs a HEPA filter. 

What does each type of air filtration system have to offer? How can you be sure which one is best for you? Let's find out!

What Is a MERV filter?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Air quality experts often talk about "MERVs” when they are discussing the effectiveness of various air filters to capture a certain class of airborne solid particulates.

MERV-rated air filters are designed to capture particles between 0.03 and 10 microns in diameter. To give you some perspective, 0.03 microns is about 1.181102e-6's of an inch and 10 microns is about 0.00039's of an inch.

So here, we are talking about pretty small particles.

Still, not all air filters are capable of capturing the smallest airborne solid particles.

This is where we turn to MERV ratings to help us select the air filter that is right for our indoor air quality concerns and needs.

Let's take a quick look at the ASHRAE official MERV rating chart to get a sense of how this might work.

  • MERV rating 1-4: can trap pollen, dust mites, carpet fibres, dust/sawdust.
  • MERV rating 5-8: all of the above plus mould spores, lint and concrete dust.
  • MERV rating 9-12: all of the above plus lead dust, legionella, coal dust and humidifier/nebulizer dust.
  • MERV rating 13-16: all of the above plus tobacco smoke, bacteria, car fumes, insecticide dust, cosmetic dust, sneeze particles, copier ink fumes and pet dander.
  • MERV rating 17-20: all of the above plus virus particles and carrier particles, salt, carbon and radon dust, micro-allergens and combustion smoke.

What Is a HEPA Filter?

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. But are there different types of HEPA filters?

Not really. All true HEPA filters must have passed the HEPA standard test for filtration efficiency.

So be careful when reviewing the marketing information about different types of air filters. For example, saying a filter is "HEPA-like" is not the same as saying a filter is a HEPA filter.

There is also such a thing as medical-grade HEPA. The difference between regular HEPA (HEPA 10-12) and medical-grade HEPA (HEPA 13-14) is a very small one, but is vital if what you are trying to trap is a tiny COVID-19 aerosol riding on an equally tiny solid airborne particulate.

At a minimum, any HEPA filter you choose should be rated as a true HEPA filter.


Can You Upgrade Your MERV Filter to Work With Your Existing HVAC?

Every day, we get calls from excited homeowners and employers who want to know if they can just take out their existing HVAC air filter and put in a higher-rated MERV filter or a HEPA filter instead.

We truly wish it were this easy.

But the truth is, there is a reason the furnace and A/C you have right now is only rated to work with a certain level of MERV filter. The reason has to do with the blower motor and fan.

The highest-rated MERV filters and all HEPA filters are made of incredibly dense material. They have to be dense to trap such incredibly tiny airborne particles.

This means the HVAC blower motor must be incredibly powerful to push air through the filter with sufficient force so that the unwelcome particles get trapped in the air filter.

If you try to retrofit an HVAC system with a higher grade of MERV filter (or HEPA equivalent) than it is rated to run with, you run a very high risk of either overheating the blower motor and starting a fire or literally burning out the blower motor.


What Can You Do to Improve Indoor Air Filtration Without a New HVAC system?

Luckily, there is another way you can improve the air filtration at your home or workplace without having to upgrade your entire HVAC system.

What we recommend here is to upgrade to a new standalone or integrated HEPA filter system.

There are two ways you can do this.

We can add on an aftermarket HEPA filtration system if you have a central HVAC system that works with an existing air duct system. This system will bypass the blower motor and filter the air after it leaves your furnace, AC and before it enters your air ducts for distribution.

If you do not have ducts, we can add one or more standalone HEPA air filtration units that are appropriately sized for the size of your space.

This is an efficient and affordable way to get all the benefits of HEPA-grade air filtration today.


Shipton's CleanAir Solutions in Hamilton, Ontario, is Your Indoor Air Filtration Expert

We are proud to have been serving our customers in Hamilton, Ontario, and surrounding areas for nearly 100 years!

Our residential and commercial HVAC and indoor air quality clients trust us to provide superior air duct cleaning, air filtration, ventilation and a wide variety of other highly effective indoor air quality aids. We even offer air purifier and whole-house humidifier solutions! 

Give our friendly, experienced technicians a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online to learn more about all the ways we can help you and your family stay safe and healthy at home.

P.S. Right now, bundle and save $100 when you purchase one of our professional air duct cleaning services with either a whole-house humidifier or ultraviolet air purifier. Contact us for details!

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