Effective heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) air filtration in commercial buildings is important for tenant health and productivity. Property owners and building owners can ensure tenant satisfaction when their indoor environments are comfortable with good air quality. Knowing what type of air filter to select and how to install and clean the filters impacts overall indoor air quality and energy efficiency. A careful and thorough evaluation needs to be conducted to select the proper air filters for maximum effectiveness and system efficiency.
- Identifying the purpose of the filter helps to determine the proper selection, as they come in a wide range of efficiencies, depths, pressure drops, media types and filtration methods. For example, will the filter be used to improve air quality, target a specific contaminant or protect a product?
- Building pressure is a factor in selecting or upgrading an HVAC air filter. The goal is to achieve an airtight as possible building envelope, ensuring that air entering a commercial building only comes in through the outside air HVAC air intake. The building envelope needs to be maintained under a slight positive pressure to inhibit infiltration.
- Filter depth needs to be determined as filters come in a wide variety of depths. An increase in depth typically provides less pressure drop and longer service life. Also, by changing to a filter with greater depth the efficiency may be increased without increasing pressure drop. The capability or capacity of the machine and the type of operating environment should also be considered.
- To select the proper filter with the appropriate Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), the ANSI.ASHRAE Standard 52.2-1999 “Method of Testing General Ventilation Air-Cleaning Devices for Removal Efficiency by Particle Size” should be used. This illustrates the level of filtration efficiency required for the contaminant size measured in micrometers (microns). The MERV charts can be used to determine exactly which filter will remove specific particle sizes.
- Proper installation and maintenance of air filtration systems requires trained technicians who understand the many issues that need to be taken into consideration. Filter bypass needs to be addressed to ensure the air moves through the filter rather than around the filter. Also, filters must not have hardware, frame or housing leaks and need to be properly fitted for maximum efficiency and performance. The proper filter holding clips need to be used. Air filter gauges should be installed to measure and monitor pressure drop across the filter bank.
- When evaluating if a high efficiency versus a low or medium efficiency filter is needed, cost is always a consideration. Higher efficiency filters typically cost more but yield better results with cleaner air throughout a building and peak energy efficiency operation. A cost analysis should be calculated, including life cycle costs, operating cost, energy efficiency, labor, installation, maintenance, replacement and disposal costs.
Regardless of what type of air filtration is selected, ongoing preventive maintenance needs to be scheduled and performed so the filters operate as intended and to the maximum efficiency.
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About Crockett Facilities Services, Inc.
Crockett Facilities Services, Inc. (CFSI), a woman-owned, MDOT MBE contractor, delivers building operations and maintenance, mechanical contracting, heating and air conditioning services to commercial and government clients. CFSI’s Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) STAR and GreenSTAR certified technicians maximize operational efficiency and ensure continuous systems operations, helping building owners and property managers control capital expenditures and reduce energy consumption. CFSI President Cynthia Crockett recently received the 2012 Minority Business Leader Award from the Washington Business Journal and was named a Smart100 member by Baltimore SmartCEO magazine in 2011. Listed as a top 10 mechanical contractor in the Washington Business Journal and certified by WBENC and MD/DC MSDC, CFSI’s awards include the Blue Ribbon, Small Business Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Contractor of the Year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
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