If You’ve Got Commercial Electronic Air Cleaners, Remember Maintenance Matters
The indoor air quality at your commercial facility is an important consideration for the health and comfort of your employees and customers. You may be using or considering using an electronic air cleaner to improve the indoor air quality at your commercial location. Keep in mind, however, that even the best electronic air cleaner available will not be effective without regular preventive maintenance.
Function of an electronic air cleaner
Your electronic air cleaner works on the principle of electrostatic attraction. This is a process that produces an electrical charge and passes that charge to particles and solid pollutants in the air. When these pollutants become electrically charged, they are attracted to surfaces in your home or to collecting plates inside the air cleaner. The charged particulates are removed from your air when they stick to indoor surfaces or collecting areas.
Electronic air cleaner types
There are two common types of electronic air cleaners:
- Electrostatic precipitators: Electrostatic precipitators are installed so that the air flowing through your heating or cooling system also flows through the precipitator. As the air travels through the unit, the system charges the particles and pollutants contained within the air. Further along the airflow path, these charged particles are literally pulled out of the air by the attraction of an oppositely charged metal collecting plate. The cleaned air then exits the precipitator and continues along its normal pathway to locations inside your facility.
- Ion generators: Ion generators produce charged ions that are dispersed into your indoor air. These ions attach to and charge particles and contaminants floating in the air inside your commercial area. When these particles receive their charge, they are then attracted to indoor surfaces such as tabletops, curtains, walls, furniture and equipment. In some cases the charged particles can attach to each other and settle onto the floor and other surfaces. Some electronic air cleaning systems will also include a germicidal ultraviolet (UV) light, either as part of the cleaner or as an added component. Direct exposure to UV light kills living microorganisms that can cause disease or discomfort. It also damages the organisms’ DNA, preventing them from reproducing and spreading.
Electronic air cleaner maintenance
Ion generators and any type electronic of air cleaner that sends charged ions into the air do not have collector plates and will not need cleaning and maintenance to keep plates clean. If your electronic air cleaner is an electrostatic precipitator type, you will need to perform regular cleaning and maintenance to keep the system working properly. Electronic air cleaner maintenance is a relatively simple task that involves removing, cleaning and replacing the collector plates where charged particles accumulate. By regularly cleaning these collector plates, you will provide a fresh surface for the gathering of particles, which lets the system work more effectively and efficiently. Clean collector plates also improve airflow within the unit and prevent the central fan from overworking, which reduces the amount of energy the unit consumes, decreases the operating costs of the system and helps reduce the chance of malfunctions or breakdowns.
The process of cleaning the plates usually consists of these steps:
- Remove the collector plates by sliding them out of their mountings.
- Wash the plates with warm water and mild soap or detergent.
- Let plates dry thoroughly.
- Return the collector plates to their normal position within the unit.
Collector plates should be cleaned at least every three months. Consult your owner’s manual for specific recommendations on cleaning the collector plates in your electronic air cleaner.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on the benefits of electronic air cleaners and how regular maintenance keeps them working at their best, or to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
Image Credit: Ronald Sarayudej