ACCA ON IAQ Accessories
IAQ Accessories: Popular Add-Ons
Poor IAQ can affect homeowners’ health, as well as comfort, which is why HVAC contractors are continually looking for solutions that can address common complaints, such as humidity problems, allergies, asthma, and dust. Electronic air cleaners, UV lights, dehumidifiers, upgraded filters — all are popular technologies that can improve IAQ, and contractors usually have several favorites they offer customers who express an interest in a healthier indoor environment.
Alert The Media
Media air cleaners are one of the more popular IAQ accessories that Scott Robinson, president, Apple Heating Inc., Ashtabula, Ohio, offers customers. He likes these 4-inch filters because they don’t cost a lot, yet they do a much better job of keeping equipment clean than the typical 1-inch throwaway filter. “We tell our customers who want cleaner air to avoid 1- and 2-inch pleated filters, as they almost always compromise system performance due to high-pressure drop across the filter.”
Robinson educates customers about upgraded filters from Aprilaire by
Aprilaire’s 4000 Series media air cleaner removes 97 percent of pollen, airborne dust, and other large particles and permanently traps indoor allergens that can lead to respiratory problems. COURTESY, APRILAIRE
explaining that they improve health by providing cleaner air to breathe and result in more convenience, as they reduce the amount of dust in a home. In addition, media air cleaners keep the cooling coil clean, resulting in equipment that lasts longer, works more effectively, and reduces energy costs. “We also show customers pictures of a new cooling coil and one that is coated with brown film, dirt, and mold. We explain that they can either clean the air with a better filter or with their lungs.”
Tom Ruse, marketing communications manager, Aprilaire, agrees that media air cleaners provide better equipment protection, a cleaner, healthier environment, as well as higher efficiencies and easy, infrequent filter changes. “Our 4000 Series media air cleaner is also available with separate ‘air cleaner control,’ which the homeowner can use to run the blower, and therefore the air cleaner, at intervals based on their needs — not just when there’s a call for heating or cooling.”
The 4000 Series media air cleaner removes 97 percent of pollen, airborne dust, and other large particles and permanently traps indoor allergens that can lead to respiratory problems. The filtering media needs only to be replaced once a year. Ruse added that the 4000 Series features a narrower cabinet, which allows more flexibility in retrofit applications. “The media requires no spacers or combs, so it is easier to install and change out, saving time and effort. The narrower cabinet provides more opportunities for the contractor to provide a high-efficiency product to more customers.”
Controlling The Source
When discussing IAQ issues, source control is the first concern for Charlie Martin, sales manager, Woodfin, Mechanicsville, Va. He prefers to resolve any and all issues involving leaky ducts and nasty crawlspaces and attics before offering IAQ accessories. “We explain to customers that once we control the sources — including tightening up ducts, sealing the attic and crawlspace, etc.— we can tackle all the other issues concerning the air.”
Martin noted that tight construction almost always results in the need for some type of IAQ equipment to clean up the human and household pollutants that are created in a normal home. For these purposes, he is fond of the AtmosAir bipolar ionization system, which he noted is the most effective system he has found in years. “This really works; it makes a very positive difference on air quality in a home or office. We sometimes allow customers to test a portable version of the system, and once they experience it, they have to have it.”
The AtmosAir system works by allowing airflow that passes across the bipolar ionization tube to become enriched with positive and negative ions. Bipolar ions seek to interact with pollutants, resulting in particles, dust, allergens, and spores being taken out of the breathing range. The system also breaks down odors, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), while pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, molds, and germs have their reproductive cycles affected, thus diminishing their numbers.
“What we can’t see in the air around us can affect us greatly,” said Tony Abate, vice president of operations, AtmosAir Solutions, Fairfield, Conn. “People who are sensitized by allergies or asthma will feel quick and noticeable relief after installing the AtmosAir system. People who do not have airborne sensitivity but are desirous of an enhanced environment will also feel and notice a difference with the reduction of odors and dust, the improved crispness of the air, and the lessening of transmission of airborne illnesses. Bipolar ionization also neutralizes static electricity and eliminates annoying carpet shocks.”
Abate added that the in-duct AtmosAir whole-house residential system can be installed in under 30 minutes, and the system can be used in retrofit or new construction applications. In retrofit situations, the existing mechanical system does not need to be re-engineered to accommodate the AtmosAir system, and no modifications to the ductwork are needed. Annual maintenance — which involves replacing the ionization tube — can be performed in 15 minutes and can be easily added to a regular preventive maintenance call.
Air Cleaners Sell Themselves
The AtmosAir system removes particles, dust, allergens, and spores from the breathing range, as well as breaks down odors, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds. COURTESY, ATMOSAIR SOLUTIONS/WOODFIN
Air cleaners are the most popular IAQ accessory that Rich Morgan, owner, Magic Touch Mechanical, Mesa, Ariz., installs. He noted that education usually results in the sale of most IAQ accessories such as air cleaners, as customers virtually sell themselves on the products.
“Part of our sales process is going through the list of comfort concerns — basically a list of questions such as: ‘Do you have allergies? Do you have hot/cold spots? Do you have a lot of dust in the home?’ That gives us an idea of what is important to the customer, and it gets their gears turning about other comfort issues besides just temperature.”
As a result of asking these questions, customers basically define their own problems, allowing Morgan an entry into providing solutions for the customer’s problems, rather than focusing on “who’s going to replace the box for the least amount of money.”
Morgan added that this approach opens many people’s eyes to the fact that comfort is about more than just air conditioning and that he is really acting as an advisor or consultant, as opposed to the company that scratches out a quick price to replace the existing unit.
Of the air cleaners that Morgan offers, he noted that customers seem to prefer Lennox’s PureAir™ system, which incorporates MERV 16 filtration and UV light in one product. “With the PureAir, we highlight the fact that it’s relatively maintenance-free, as the media filter and UV light kit only need to be replaced one time a year (in most cases), and we can do that at the same time as our annual maintenance visit. In addition, I like the fact that it reduces and destroys ozone.”
According to Lennox, the PureAir air purification system reduces concentrations of pollutants through a combination of hospital-grade filtration and photocatalytic oxidation. PureAir technology involves three steps:
1. The Precision Pleat™ MERV 16 filter captures particles and bioaerosols as small as 0.01 micron, removing them from the airstream.
2. As the odor- and chemical-vapor-filled airstream flows over the UVA lamps, the airstream is exposed to the catalytic surface (titanium-dioxide-coated metal insert).
3. The light energy and catalyst work together to break down odors and chemical vapors into harmless carbon dioxide and water.
Because of the design, the PureAir system does not restrict airflow the way many pleated filters do and is covered by the Lennox system warranty, said Morgan.
“This is the only air cleaner specifically designed to fit seamlessly into a package unit, and it only costs a few hundred dollars. Customers are very receptive to these systems, and we sell a lot!”
Contractors who offer a wide range of IAQ products show they are committed to providing solutions for their customers’ indoor comfort and health concerns. This results in happy, comfortable customers, as well as repeat business and referrals, both of which are necessary for the growth and success of any HVAC contractor.