Can Air Conditioners Be Used to Help Clean Up Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air is unclean, stale and filled with pollutants. Compared to outdoor air, the air inside your home is ten times more contaminated. Many of the pollutants we inhale in our homes come from outdoors through windows, while others are from different sources inside our homes. Poor indoor air quality can be risky as it can cause several respiratory conditions and other health problems.
The Purpose of Your Air Conditioner
The primary function of air conditioners is to produce fresh air and reduce heat in a room. They can, however, remove different contaminants such as pollen and dust from indoor air through their filters. These impurities are pulled inside the air conditioners by the cooling system, but are often pushed back to the room a short time later. The filters sieve pollutants for a only a short duration. Some filters, however, fail to clean tiny allergens present in indoor air. Changing these filters and replacing them with better ones, such as the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, will increase your a/c’s efficiency in eliminating the allergens from the air.
When using your air conditioner to clean air, it’s important you clean and change your filters at least every two weeks. Dirt reduces the a/c’s ability to clean air as it decreases air flow through the filters. Contrary to the common belief that dirt helps filters work better, dirt free filters are what keep the air clean.
Like filters, the evaporator coils should also stay clean. Some air conditioners require skilled personnel to clean the evaporator coil, but in others, it is possible to clean it yourself. Unclean evaporator coils limit air flow thus inhibiting the ability of the a/c to clean air. Dirt corrodes the evaporator coil and as a result, the refrigerant leaks. This gas leak releases poisonous vapors to the indoor air that can lead to fatal diseases. A dirty coil also promotes the growth of mold as well as mildews resulting from dust mixing with condensation from the coil. These pollutants can be toxic to one’s health and hence cleaning the coil is crucial. Air conditioners such as LG portable air conditioners, however, have special auto-clean features designed to eliminate any moisture from the coils, thus preventing the growth of molds.
Loose and dirty ducts also send contaminated air into your room. Firmly seal your ducts and have them professionally washed to prevent them from blowing contaminants into your living space.
Choosing The Right Filter
When trying to get cleaner air using your existing air conditioner, focus on the MERV rating of your a/c. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of your a/c will guide you in choosing a filter that works for you. Different filters work for different pollutants depending on how tightly they are woven. The MERV rating will help you in your search for the appropriate filter designed to trap the pollutants of your choice and one that your a/c can manage. Common residential filters range from MERV 8 to MERV 13.
MERV 8, for example, can trap mold spores, hairspray particles, carpet fibers and dust mites. They are preferred and recommended for homes by most buyers and can eliminate a maximum of 35 percent of dust particles.
MERV 9-MERV 12 filters have finer and better filtrations. They can trap automotive emissions and flour in the air and eliminate dust particles by 45 percent for MERV 9 and 75 percent for MERV 12 filters. These filters are very effective at proving good air quality. Conversely, these filters can at times cause problems to the air handler.
MERV 13 filters are convenient for people with weak immunity. They are well structured to filter any bacteria, sneeze droplets, microorganisms and tobacco smoke. It traps 90 percent of dust particles and guarantees you pollutant-free air. These filters have lower airflow and should be changed after every three months to prevent inhibited airflow.
The Efficiency of Your Air Conditioner Depends On You
In conclusion, the effectiveness of your air conditioner in cleaning indoor air relies heavily on your choice of filters and the maintenance of the a/c. Clean air should be as important as having cool air in your room. Please keep in mind, an air conditioning system is not the only way to improve indoor air quality. Other effective ways to clean air in your home include eliminating sources of pollutants, using plants, keeping the place clean and airing out your home regularly.
Author Bio: Duncan Kingori is a marketing professional who enjoys writing content for both startups and well-established companies. In his spare time, he likes to spend time traveling.