Just like with residential properties, air filtration is of utmost importance in commercial facilities. Commercial real estate building owners or property managers need to run their buildings efficiently and cost effectively all while thinking of the comfort and health of the building's personnel. Proper air filtration can help commercial property owners do that.
Air filter needs differ depending on the type of building. For example, a residential property will not require the same filter as a pet grooming salon. Before making any filtration changes or upgrades, one must understand how an HVAC unit can serve the needs of a business.
Air Filter Efficiency
Filters are rated based on a Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) between 1 and 16. The higher the number, the more particulate matter it removes from the air. MERV 1-4 provide the least amount of filtration and exist merely to keep larger contaminants out of the system. Commercial facilities generally benefit from MERV 8-10.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration range from 17-20 MERV. These filters are reserved for specialized facilities like hospitals to prevent the spread of diseases. They can remove at least 99.97% of contaminants up to 0.3 microns in size. Increasing the HVAC filtration efficiency, however, typically results in higher pressure drops.
Indoor Air Quality Problems
Higher efficiency rated air filters like HEPA can impede an HVAC-system airflow (also known as a pressure drop). Since higher efficiency filters have a higher resistance to airflow, the proper sizing and design of equipment by an experienced commercial comfort advisor is crucial. Another problem that commonly occurs with air filter changes is air filter bypass. Filter bypass happens when air moves around the filter instead of through it. Improper sizing and installation can drastically decrease the efficiency of a filtration system.
HVAC System Considerations
An HVAC air filtration system cannot improve air quality alone. If a building's envelope isn't airtight, outside, unfiltered air can sneak in through cracks. Therefore, one must consider not only the air filter but also other steps, like building envelope tightness. This ensures that the only air entering into the building is through the HVAC system.
Maintenance and Other Costs
Facility owners must remember that with any change comes cost. Though switching to a filtration system may cost more than simple repairs, any initial costs are quickly offset by system efficiency, better air quality, and longer lifetime value.
Before making any filter changes to an HVAC system, we recommend contacting one of our comfort advisors to evaluate the feasibility of the change. Call us at (909) 792-2222.