At Electric Masters, we are masters of much more than electrical services in Cincinnati. If you were to be searching for an electrician in Cincinnati, however, we’d certainly be able to help you with whatever electric wiring, installation, or repair needs you might have.

But recently we’ve expanded our operations to include HVAC installation, repair, maintenance, and other HVAC services in Cincinnati. If you are looking for professional HVAC service in Cincinnati, we’ve got you covered whether your need is residential or commercial in nature.

That being established, we find ourselves in the middle of two-part series that concerns highlighting how important it is to remember your air filtration system when assessing your home’s air quality and HVAC needs.

In part one, we discussed the three ways in which indoor air pollution can be reduced — source control, ventilation, and air purification. We encourage you to go back and read part one when you get a chance, because it serves as a foundation for what we will be discussing in part two! Today’s post concerns the origin of home air filters, in addition to addressing industry jargon like “HEPA” and the “MERV” rating system. Prepare to be educated about air filtration!

Air Filtration Basics

Before we discuss the history of air filters on any level, let’s talk about the function of air filters. Believe it or not, air filters filter out all sorts of airborne contaminants that you do not want to be breathing in. Such pollutants include dust, dust mites, pollen, smoke, spores, mold, and other contaminants. Individuals struggling with asthma or other related allergies to dust and adulterants, air filters are far more than a “first-world” luxury; they are a necessity.

The very first kind of air filters was introduced to the world during the 16th-century. Many inventions and discoveries were being made during the enlightenment and renaissance; and many of them are attributable to none other than Leonardo Da Vinci. Yes, it was he who constructed the very first over-the-mouth-and-nose respirator. Its purpose was not unlike the air filters we now use — to keep airborne toxins like gases, fumes, dust particles, and others out of our lungs! Da Vinci’s method involved dipping a cloth filter that had been dipped in water, hypothetically protecting it from contaminants that, at the time, were effectually impossible to measure.

Let’s fast-forward three hundred odd years or so. It brings us to Lewis Haslett and his “lung protector,” which received the very first patent in this novel category. Haslett utilized Da Vinci’s theory by wetting wool with a clapper valve, which filtered out a substantial amount of dust from the air.

Let’s skip ahead through history one more time, as we arrive in the 20th-century. High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters (HEPA) were introduced in the 1900s due to the preponderance of chemical warfare this century saw. HEPA filters boasted a minimum of 99.97 percent particle removal efficiency rate. This impressive figure blew every other kind of filter out of the water in performance. After World War II, the United States government decided it was appropriate for HEPA technology to be released to the general public on a commercial level.

How HEPA Air Filters Function

The brief history lesson above offers some context for HEPA air filters, but it doesn’t tell us much about how HEPA filters actually work. Essentially HEPA filters are made of a web of fibers which are intentionally set up in a random design so that they are able to capture particles out of the air. Contrast this with non-HEPA filters, which have very small pores (so they don’t let bigger particles through). And while you might think that HEPA filters also have small pores (in a manner of speaking), HEPA air filters actually use a blend of three distinct methods to achieve the amazing 99.97 minimum particle capture rate. Learn more about impaction, interception, and diffusion below.

  • Impaction – Impaction involves dealing with airborne particles larger than .4 microns. This means that contaminant particles above .4 microns will collide with the fiber and remain there. HEPA filters have air streams that direct such pollutants in that direction. Because such contaminants stay stuck once they are caught, this is the obvious reason for changing out air filters with regularity.
  • Interception – This is a method that, again, deal with contaminant particles larger than .4 microns. Interception is simply the other side of the impaction coin. While impaction describes how a pollutant remains ensnared in the fiber of an air filter, interception simply refers to the particle being caught in the first place.
  • Diffusion – Diffusion is the process by which particles under .1 microns are caught. This is the critical element of HEPA filters: the way in which the web of fibers is designed contributes to certain particles colliding with other airborne molecules, making them change direction. They’ll bounce around until they are caught by the impaction/interception method does its thing — where they will be the HEPA filter’s eternal prisoner!

How Well Do HEPA Air Filters Work?

99.97 percent sounds like an effective percentage to most laypeople — but we should be clear, given it’s our health that’s a key part of this discussion. Fortunately, however, HEPA air filters are very effective in doing what they are made to do — filter out solid particles from the air. While simply having a HEPA filter isn’t a guarantee of having the “Rolls Royce” in an air filtration system, but they are more than proficient when it comes to filtering out common airborne pollutants like pollen, dust, and other solid particles. This is why HEPA filters are generally more expensive than other kinds of air filters.

Understanding The MERV Rating System

MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is part of the MERV rating system, which is the most generally accepted standard for judging air filtration effectiveness. Quite simply, the higher the number, the better the air filter you will get. However, we should note that there are different standards for distinct kinds of buildings; an air filtration system designed for home use will not be comparable to a commercial building in rating.  

Who Is Your Go-To When It Comes To Air Filtration & HVAC Service In Cincinnati?

We like this question a lot (which is the reason why we posed it, naturally). If you are looking for professional HVAC service in Cincinnati, choose ElectricMasters. We offer reliable and affordable residential and commercial HVAC services, providing HVAC maintenance, repair, installation, and more.

We are more than just local electricians here at ElectricMasters. For a comprehensive HVAC service call, contact us! We’d love to hear from you and give you a free quote.