Whole-House Air Filtration and Cleaning: 4 Types of Technology That Might Improve Your IAQ
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Whole-House Air Filtration and Cleaning: 4 Types of Technology That Might Improve Your IAQ


While Oregon’s outdoor air is cleaner than air in many other states, it still infiltrates your Portland area home loaded with various particulates – everything from common dirt and dust to mold and bacteria. In an airtight home, these particulates can accumulate and worsen indoor air quality. You can counter this airborne invasion with whole-house air filtration and cleaning inside your furnace’s ductwork. Four main types of whole-house air filtration and cleaning are commonly available.

Mechanical Filters

Two whole-house air filtration and cleaning methods use air filters to physically block particulates in the airborne stream inside your cold air return ducts, usually near where they connect to your furnace or other HVAC equipment. These are thin filters and thick filters.

  • Thin Filters – Ranging from cheap discount store flat filters to better-quality pleated filters, these are the thin rectangles you may recognize from replacing them every month. Thin filters chiefly serve to block the largest particles from harming your home’s furnace. Any benefit to your family’s lungs is secondary. A clogged thin filter robs your furnace of efficiency. Pleated thin filters provide greater surface area and are therefore better than flat filters.
  • Thick Filters – A sandwich of six pleated filters forced into your ducts essentially gives you a thick filter. At around 8 inches thick, this pleated medium will cost around 12 times more than a single flat filter. Though the annual material cost is similar, installation into the return air plenum must be done by your trusted professional HVAC contractor.

Electronic Cleaning

Many Portland-area furnace owners add electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) to their mechanical filtration. These solids include pet dander, volcanic ash, human skill cells, smoke particles and outside dirt. The particulates receive a high-voltage zap that makes them stick to a collector as they pass through the airstream. ESP filtration needs professional installation and servicing. Portable models are available, but may produce the irritating ozone and are limited in the area they serve.

Ultraviolet Germicidal Filtration

Using ultraviolet light (UV) as germicidal irradiation is the idea behind UVGI. The light disrupts small organisms’ DNA, killing them. UVGI purifies your home’s air of bioaerosols only, not particulates. UVGI requires professional installation. You only have to change the UV bulb once or twice a year, depending, respectively, on whether they’re in your ducts treating the airstream or shining on heat pump or A/C coils.

For more help with whole-house air filtration for your Portland area home, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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