Heating & Air Conditioning in Oakland & Berkeley, CA
(510) 444-1960

Indoor Air Quality

With the recent wildfire smoke, Covid-19 the emphasis on indoor air quality is more important than ever. Irritant such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites, pollens and smoke can cause hay fever, asthma, and be a big problem for people with chronic respiratory issues. The affects of poor indoor air quality include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, coughing, sneezing, allergic reactions, irritation to eyes nose and throat and could lead to long term respiratory disease.

There are a variety of products when coupled with the homes heating and air conditioning system that will dramatically improve indoor air quality. Most forced air furnace system have 1” filters. The purpose of this type of filter is to protect the equipment’s motors and blower assembly from excess wear. There is very little done with standard furnace filter to help air quality. For unbiased information read EPA Guide to Air Cleaners in the home.

What Is a MERV Rating?

Filter Change

Furnace filters have a rating MERV. That stands for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value”. This reports the filters’ ability to capture particles between the size of 0.3 Microns and 10 Microns in size. Proper filtration helps to provide heathier indoor air quality. Using the MERV rating system, the higher the number the smaller the particulate that will be removed. So why not just install the highest number available? The higher the number the more the filter creates static resistance to airflow. There needs to be a balance between the air flow requirements and the filters MERV rating. Most residential system will work perfectly with filters that have a MERV rating up to 13. However, a 13 MERV filter will need to be serviced more often than an 11 MERV filter or 8 MERV Filter. Another consideration is how much does the filter hold by weight. A 1” flat filter holds less than a 2” pleated filter or a 4” pleated filter. We recommend filter cabinets that hold 4” pleated filters when practical. Aprilaire 1410 and 1210 cabinets are a great choice and can use either 11 MERV or 13 MERV filters. There are even 16 MERV filters available, but we don’t recommend for typical residential use.

Some filter systems use a combination of high-density media filter with electronic ionizers. These hybrid type filters are rated up to 16 MERV. Several manufactures make similar products including Bryant and Carriers “Perfect Air Purifier”, Trane “CleanEffects”, “Honeywell F-300” and “Aprilaire 5000”. In lab test the Aprilaire has lower air flow resistance and high efficiency even after 90% dirty. See Research Products Corporation Report!

Following is sample of some of the system we can recommend:

Aprilaire 1410 and 1210 Filter Cabinet

Aprilaire #1210 20”x25” and #1410 16”x25”

Key Features

  • Comes with 11 MERV and has optional 13 MERV replacement filters
  • Long filter life 1-2 years
  • 11 MERV captures Pollen, mold spore, bacteria, pet dander, house duct
  • 13 MERV captures all of above plus smoke particulate and dust mites
  • Easy to service
  • Low cost for filter replacement
  • Inexpensive when installed with system

Aprilaire 5000 Whole Home Air Hybrid Air Cleaner

Key Features

The Aprilaire 5000 is a combination high density media filter with electrostatic precipitation. The technology was developed and refined after the threat of airborne virous being introduced in public or government building after the 9/11 attack on our country. This unit is ideal for those people that have need for the best air cleaning with rating of 16 MERV without creating excess static resistance.


  • MERV Rating 16
  • Last 1-2 years before service
  • Remove particles down to virous size
  • Does not use ozone to clean air
  • 9 percent effective in trapping pollen and mold size particles
  • Low static resistance to airflow

PlasmaAir 600 Series ionizer

Key Features

PlasmaPure product replicates nature’s process for air cleaning by producing positive and negative ions that interact with and neutralize pollutants in the air. This units fits in the blower compartment of a furnace or air handler and silently helps to purify your indoor air.

  • Comes in 24-volt, 110-volt or 220-volt units
  • Easy installation
  • No service required
  • Zero Ozone emissions
  • Enhances the filters’ ability to trap smallest particles


Portable Air Cleaners

There are other air cleaning options including portable air cleaners. Many homeowners have bought these devices and have them in rooms of the homes and offices. Even if a whole house air cleaner is installed in the HVAC system these portables assist in keeping the air as clean and purified as possible. The most important thing to remember in air cleaning only works if the systems are on. Furnaces produced since 2020 have electronic low voltage motors that use 80% less electricity. Modulating furnaces work best with any type of filter because their fan speeds are lower most of the time. It makes sense it is easier to trap particles that are moving slower through the filter system.