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Smoke, Pathogens & Allergens? You Need Whole-Home Air Purification!

Smoke, Pathogens & Allergens? You Need Whole-Home Air Purification! 1080 720 White Sands Design/Build

Considering custom-building? You’re probably thinking about air filtration in a serious way. We’re having a record-breaking California fire season, in the middle of a pandemic. You want your home to be a clean, comfortable haven, free from toxins and allergens, the haze of smoke, and the airborne pathogens we’re all trying to avoid.

Even so, HVAC ducting and a roomy furnace closet are often the first things to give on a set of blueprints. Space is tight, and homeowners don’t love the idea of sacrificing it for something more functional than fun.

It’s hard to know which air purification system is right for you. Which system will filter the particles you’re most concerned about, while taking up the least amount of your premium living space?

For Natural Air Purification, Build At the Beach

If you build near the ocean, you’ll have an easier time with California’s fire season. The breeze coming off of the water keeps the air clearer than inland, and the amazing views keep your stress in check. The beach is a fabulous place to live all the time, but we’ve felt particularly lucky to already be where we want to be as traveling is now more prohibitive with Covid and wildfires. 

 

Let’s Talk About MERV Ratings

When deciding what kind of air filtration system you need, ask about the MERV rating. MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value,” and it tells you how effective an air filter is at catching the tiniest particles. These ratings go from 0-20. The higher the MERV rating, the tinier the particles it captures, and the cleaner the air you breathe.

However, if your filter has a MERV rating that is too high for your HVAC system, it can prevent free air flow, which makes the filter ineffective and could potentially damage an expensive home system. As long as you’re working with an expert contractor and subs, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Worried About Allergens? Try a Basic Media Filter

Dogs outside in California

Basic media filters are a cost-conscious way to purify all the air flowing through your home. They should be installed during the construction phase, since they are placed directly into ductwork. They trap allergens, such as dust and pollen, as air passes through.

These filters are essentially supercharged furnace filters, about seven inches thick to the standard one inch, and they can be hidden in your furnace closet. They cost about $500, and their filters (about $50) should be changed annually or bi-annually. Basic media filters scrub air at least seven times and up to 40 times better than standard filters, depending on the type of filter you use (HEPA, activated charcoal, etc.). They also help your HVAC system last longer by keeping it cleaner.

The Longtime Gold Standard: HEPA Filters

HEPA (high efficiency particle air) filters are available as media filters and can capture up to 99 percent of the most common particles we breathe. But you’ll have to decide if you want a HEPA filter in tandem with choosing a HVAC system, since not all systems are compatible with HEPA.

Worried About Mold or Pathogens? Get a UV Filter

UV filters need to be incorporated into the ductwork of your home, so they’re installed alongside the HVAC system. They’re slightly more expensive than media filters, but they don’t require any sort of regular maintenance, and they obliterate mold, bacteria, and viruses like a champ. Unfortunately, they don’t touch dust, pollen, or smoke.

Worried About Smoke? Your Best Bet Is An Electronic/Ionic Filter

California fires

Photo by John Towner

Electronic filters, also called ionic filters, are high-tech units incorporated into your ducts that are fantastic at filtering smoke—especially smoke particles that are too small to be caught by basic media filters. Electronic filters never need replacing, but their metal collector plates may need to be cleaned in soapy water a few times a year. They cost about $600-$1000, and some electronic filters may emit ozone, which is also considered an air pollutant. Look for models that don’t emit ozone. They’re out there!

Want To Tackle Smoke, Pathogens & Allergens, And Willing to Part With Space To Do It?

Your best bet is to pair a UV filter with a HEPA or activated charcoal media filter, although a whole-home electronic/ionic filter is also effective at dealing with these issues.

A Filter We Like

At White Sands, we really like iWave ionic filters. They fit into your air duct and use a balance of negative and positive ions to break down pollutants into harmless compounds, like oxygen and water vapor. iWave can break down pathogens and smoke, and it causes allergens, such as pollen, to bond together, so that they’re big enough to be caught by your home’s standard air filter. iWave doesn’t produce ozone, some models are no-maintenance, and they’re around the same price as a high-end basic media filter. (For the record, we’re not product reps or anything. We just think this is a really good filter.)

Ultimately, the decision to add additional air purification is up to you. But we’re happy to talk you through that decision and answer any other questions you may have about custom-building your luxury beach home near Los Angeles, CA. Contact us today.
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Thanks for reading,

Hawlie Ohe

Hawlie Ohe heads White Sands Interiors, and she and her husband are raising two boys along the South Bay coast. Hawlie brings the curiosity that fueled her first career, as a journalist, to her interior design approach: Who are you, who do want to be, and how can this space get you there? Great design makes you feel present and engaged, and Hawlie is here for it. Because she wants you to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.

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