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Homeowner Tips

Electrostatic Filters

Air filters serve a wide range of purposes in your home. They remove dust, dander and other allergens from the air. They actually can help keep some odors under control. Using them reduces wear and tear on HVAC systems.

One air filter that’s increasingly popular with homeowners is the electrostatic filter. Those provide excellent filtration and are cleanable and reusable. 

Traditional air filters work by putting pleated material in the way of air moving through your system. The air passes through but catching dust and other on those fibers.  If there aren’t any fibers in the way of any given particle then the particle will pass through anyway.

Electrostatic filters work differently by attracting those particles even if they would otherwise be able to pass through the filter unimpeded.

It's done by static electricity, which is the same thing that causes socks to stick to your clothes in the dryer and can make balloons stick to the wall if you rub them in your hair. These filters carry a slight static charge, allowing them to attract even microscopic particles that would normally be too small for a filter to stop. Particles passing through the filter become ionized, meaning that they pick up a charge themselves which causes them to have a natural attraction that pulls them toward a collecting layer in the filter. Once the particles are attracted to the filter, they become stuck, just like that proverbial sock or balloon.

One positive of traditional pleated filters is that they become more efficient as they build up more dust and other particles; because the stuff filtered out of the air clogs up holes that small particles could pass through in the filter, it becomes less likely that additional particles will pass through. Unfortunately, this isn’t an advantage that electrostatic filters share. As electrostatic filters attract dirt and other particles out of the air, the available attractive material becomes covered up and they actually become less efficient. The good news is that this can be taken care of simply by cleaning the filter.

Cleaning an electrostatic filter is a pretty easy process. After turning off the HVAC system and removing the filter, take it outside and spray it with a hose in the opposite direction that the air would normally flow. Keep rinsing until the water comes out clean, then allow the filter to air dry. Once it’s dry, reinstall the filter and it’s ready to start filtering again. Doing this once a month or as needed is recommended.

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