Tricks of the Trade

How to answer your customers’ questions about indoor air quality

For both homeowners and businesses alike, concerns about indoor air quality, or IAQ, have been significantly elevated a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Heating and cooling contractors are uniquely positioned to serve as IAQ solution providers for their customers, which can also be beneficial for HVAC businesses. Having an understanding of why indoor air quality is important and how you can improve indoor air quality will empower you to talk to your customers about IAQ solutions. Be prepared to answer questions about air quality to better meet your customers’ demands for cleaner indoor air.

Answer: Indoor air is up to 10 times dirtier than outdoor air, and people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Breathing unclean air can lead to long term negative health effects and respiratory issues.

Answer: The most common indoor pollutants include asbestos, mold, bacteria, viruses, dust mites, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, lead, nitrogen dioxide, pesticides, radon, indoor particulate matter, secondhand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke, volatile organic compounds, and wood smoke.

Answer: HEPA means high-efficiency particulate absorbing filter. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control defines a HEPA filter as an air filter that removes more than 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger at a specified flow rate of air. Minimum efficiency reporting values, or MERVs, report a filter's ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter is at trapping specific types of particles.

Answer: Volatile organic compounds are compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. Many VOCs are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them and, to some degree, when they are stored. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short and long-term adverse health effects.

Answer: Active UV products from certain manufacturers like the Air Scrubber by Aerus create supercharged molecules that break down contaminants both in the air and on surfaces.

Answer: Needlepoint bipolar ionization technology creates and releases ions into the airstream using an existing HVAC system as the delivery method. When these ions disperse throughout a space, they seek out and form bonds with particles in the air through a process called agglomeration. This creates a snowball effect in which particles begin to cluster together. The larger a cluster of particles becomes, the easier it is for your system to filter it out of the air. An ion is a molecule or atom that is positively or negatively charged, meaning it must either gain or lose electrons in order to become neutral.

Answer: Some equipment is self-cleaning but typically, bulbs, filters, pads and cells need replacing every six to 18 months, depending on manufacturer.

Answer: Most products are installed in the blower fan cabinet on the mechanical equipment or in ductwork of the system.

Answer: PCO is photocatalytic oxidization. Energy from a high intensity UV bulb reacts with a metal catalyst or absorption bar to neutralize odors and VOCs.  

Answer: Needlepoint bipolar ionization devices installed in the ductwork require little to no maintenance.

Answer: Professionally installed products are selected by the size of the home or the capacity of the mechanical equipment.

Answer: Devices that are classified as FDA Class II have been tested and can provide valid scientific evidence collected from human clinical trials showing they are safe and effective for its intended use. Examples of FDA Class II devices are the Healthway 950P and the Novaerus 1050.

Answer: Portable devices are sized based on the square footage they can treat.  Portable units can be wall mounted or placed on a table/shelf area.  Multiple units can be spread out in high traffic areas or located on opposite sides of the room.

As one of the nation’s leading HVAC/R suppliers, you can trust Ferguson to have the IAQ products you need to improve your customers’ indoor air. We back our expansive inventory of IAQ products with expert support and can help you customize IAQ solutions to exceed your customers’ expectations. Learn more about our IAQ solutions and shop indoor air quality products online or at a Ferguson location near you.