HVAC and Ionizer advice needed

   #1  

EddieWalker

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Just over 2 years ago we had a new Amana 3 ton, 16 Seer HVAC system installed. Since then, the coils have become plugged up from very fine dog hair and dust. The coils are in an upside down V shape and I'm able to get under them and clean off some of the hair with a wire brush so air flows through them again, but they are still very dirty. The solution is to remove the coils and clean them , then install them again and put refrigerant back into the system. Estimate is 4 hours labor at $90 an hour, plus refrigerant. If it's less time, he said they would charge us less. This is supposed to happen March.

We have 5 Akitas and 3 extra large doggy doors for them to come and go when they want. They have a one acre yard to run around it, and they like to play rough with each other, which means a lot of dust comes into the house constantly. They also shed a lot of hair. We have two Roomba's that run every day, plus my wife is a clean freak that is constantly cleaning. With Covid, she mostly works from home and is able to keep the house as clean as possible.

Because of the dogs, I change the air filter twice a month. It's always dirty, and it's always bowed up at the sides. The AC guy said that when the filter bows up, it's allowing the dust and dog hair to get to the coils.

To make sure it doesn't happen again, the HVAC guy showed me how to convert my one inch filter to a 2 inch filter. I found a six pack of 13 MER filters for $60 on Amazon, so that's not too bad. They are 20x20x2 and they should remain solid in place without bending up. I did this Saturday and will check on it next weekend to see how well they do. I expect to change them twice a month like before.

If all that makes sense, then this is my question. He suggested that we ad an ionizer to the system. He said that it plugs in by the fan and it charges the air so it clumps up the dust and hair in the house, and then the filter will catch more of it, which will keep the coils clean. His estimate for labor and materials is $567.75

I think that they have a significant mark up on materials and I'm wondering if this is something that I need? Does it work like he says it will? and most importantly, is this something that I can do myself if I can find an ionizer for a better price? From what he said, it's a quick, easy job to wire it up and attach it to the inside wall of the unit. It's a mounted to a magnet, but he will screw it to the wall to make it more secure.

When they told me that I should add a surge protector, they wanted $300 to do it, and they told me the make and model that they will use. I found it on Amazon for $50 and installed it myself. If they want $567 to do this, I'm wondering if I can find it for a lot less and save a couple hundred bucks? or do I even need an ionizer?

And my other question is can I just buy an ionizer for inside the house that plugs into an outlet and does not have anything to do with going inside of the HVAC unit? Would that accomplish the same thing? Would I save money doing it this way?

My last question is what to buy? Do you have one, does it work? where did you get it?

Thank you,
Eddie
 
   #2  

MossRoad

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First, don't use a wire brush. They make brushes specifically for coils that won't damage them, like this:

TOUGH GUY Condenser Brush, Polyester, Brush Length '('In.')' 2 1'/'8 in, Handle Type Plastic, Handle Color White - 3HHE8'|'3HHE8 - Grainger

Second, have you tried using spray-on coil cleaner? They make several types. One requires rinsing. One is no-rinse. I use the no-rinse in my house. We have indoor cats, so lots of cat hair. It dissolves most dirt, dust and grease after you brush off the pet hair and vacuum it out.

It comes in aerosol cans, or, you can buy it on bulk gallons and mix it up in a pump sprayer.

We had an electrostatic air filter on our furnace (still do, but disconnected). It worked just O.K. It just had what looked like window screens in front of it to trap large particles like dust bunnies and pet fur. The device itself has wires and plates. Anything coming through it would get zapped and stick to the plates. Once a month you have to pull the two plates sections out and you can either rinse and brush them clean, or put them in the dishwasher.

The ZAPPING would get annoying, and would signal it was time to clean it. Kinda like having a bug zapper in your ducts.

Anyhow, if you haven't tried a brush, vacuum and coils spray first, I'd go that route.

You could also go with double filters. Put some lower-rated filters in front of your high-rated filters. The lowers will be sacrificial and the higher will last a very long time.
 
   #3  

Sigarms

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Just over 2 years ago we had a new Amana 3 ton, 16 Seer HVAC system installed. Since then, the coils have become plugged up from very fine dog hair and dust. The coils are in an upside down V shape and I'm able to get under them and clean off some of the hair with a wire brush so air flows through them again, but they are still very dirty. The solution is to remove the coils and clean them , then install them again and put refrigerant back into the system. Estimate is 4 hours labor at $90 an hour, plus refrigerant. If it's less time, he said they would charge us less. This is supposed to happen March.

We have 5 Akitas and 3 extra large doggy doors for them to come and go when they want. They have a one acre yard to run around it, and they like to play rough with each other, which means a lot of dust comes into the house constantly. They also shed a lot of hair. We have two Roomba's that run every day, plus my wife is a clean freak that is constantly cleaning. With Covid, she mostly works from home and is able to keep the house as clean as possible.

Because of the dogs, I change the air filter twice a month. It's always dirty, and it's always bowed up at the sides. The AC guy said that when the filter bows up, it's allowing the dust and dog hair to get to the coils.

To make sure it doesn't happen again, the HVAC guy showed me how to convert my one inch filter to a 2 inch filter. I found a six pack of 13 MER filters for $60 on Amazon, so that's not too bad. They are 20x20x2 and they should remain solid in place without bending up. I did this Saturday and will check on it next weekend to see how well they do. I expect to change them twice a month like before.

If all that makes sense, then this is my question. He suggested that we ad an ionizer to the system. He said that it plugs in by the fan and it charges the air so it clumps up the dust and hair in the house, and then the filter will catch more of it, which will keep the coils clean. His estimate for labor and materials is $567.75

I think that they have a significant mark up on materials and I'm wondering if this is something that I need? Does it work like he says it will? and most importantly, is this something that I can do myself if I can find an ionizer for a better price? From what he said, it's a quick, easy job to wire it up and attach it to the inside wall of the unit. It's a mounted to a magnet, but he will screw it to the wall to make it more secure.

When they told me that I should add a surge protector, they wanted $300 to do it, and they told me the make and model that they will use. I found it on Amazon for $50 and installed it myself. If they want $567 to do this, I'm wondering if I can find it for a lot less and save a couple hundred bucks? or do I even need an ionizer?

And my other question is can I just buy an ionizer for inside the house that plugs into an outlet and does not have anything to do with going inside of the HVAC unit? Would that accomplish the same thing? Would I save money doing it this way?

My last question is what to buy? Do you have one, does it work? where did you get it?

Thank you,
Eddie

For a lot of animals in the house, I'd go with a MERV10 4" air cleaner, such as a Honeywell F100. A 20"x20" 4" MERV10 has more surface area than a 20"x20" 2 air filter. Thing is, you probably would need to do some duct modifications to install the cabinet (which holds th filter) in the duct.

For your current 2" MERV13 filter, my only concearn would be if you were using a 1" poly or fiberglass air filter in the past (say a MERV8 or MERV10 rating) and now going to a MERV 13, I'd just check the static pressure of your duct. MERV13 offers more resistance to airflow, and depending on what your static pressure was before going to the MERV13, you could possibly end up hurting your HVAC system over the long haul with a higher MERV rating (higher rate of blower motor burnout over time being the prime victim).

No idea on what a ionizer would do for dogs as I've never followed up with anyone where one was installed, but they do help immensely with other indoor air qality issues. I wouldn't waste my time with a stand alone unit for one room.

I will agree about the price your HVAC guy gave you on the surge protector, but if the sub $600 price was for an install on a iWaveR, REME HELO or Dust Free IAQ ionizer, that's a GREAT price. The reality is a decent duct ionizer costs at least 10 time more than a surge protector.
 
   #4  

jaxs

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Expanding on what Moss said,which is good advice. The special coil brushes work ok but I've found large ROUND hairbrushes do just as well and I mostly use wire brushes. The key is don't scrub,wipe with a rolling motion as brush move's along fins.. You must pull brush out and remove lint after only a few inches of coil. Once that is complete,shining a light through coil will tell you if and how much is lodged between fins. If light only passes 50% or less space between fins,next step depends on conditions. If there's room enough,I have a 6"x6"x2" plastic cup for shop vac (a reducer is used to step down hose size). Cup is placed against coil,prefiablly intake side. I have a clear plastic sleeve in hose that alow's me to see what is going through hose. Some time alot can be extracted,some times very little,depending on how well lint is adheared to fins. Coil is vacuumed again,but this time a solution of water and "NO RINSE" coil cleaner is sprayed from oppisite side as vac hood move's accross coil. Make certain condensate pan and drains are clean because dirt will wash off coils to increase chances of blockage for a few days.
Dog hair doesn't need ionization to assist filtering. If you want ionization,use a stand alone unit in bedrooms. Merv 13 is 5 steps above 8 I use in normal conditions. High Merv can offer relief for serious respitory issues and certainly doesn't harm healthy people but I only use high Merv for special situations. Moss's suggestion for primary filteration would be highly reccomended for your situation.
MERV 6 removes lint, household dust, and pollen. MERV 8 removes those plus dust mites and mold spores. MERV 11 pet dander, smoke, and smog. MERV 13 will also remove bacteria and virus carriers.
If you choose above 8,I highly reccomend increasing filter size. That can be accomplished several ways including 2 filters in a vee like your coil. I have fashioned many "hammocks" from 2x2 or 1x1 welded wire and covered with spun polyester available in cut to fit rolls from Home Depot Supply Catalog. For price comparison with Amazon,ask Home Depot customer service or Pro desk about case lots from "Home Depot Supply Catalog". Properly filtered,coils will never require cleaning for life of unit. Proper filteration increase's unit life,reduce's energy consumption,make's air healthier and reduce's house cleaning chores. Hope you find this helpful,it came from 40 years experience in hvac.
 
   #5  

Sigarms

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We had an electrostatic air filter on our furnace (still do, but disconnected). It worked just O.K. It just had what looked like window screens in front of it to trap large particles like dust bunnies and pet fur. The device itself has wires and plates. Anything coming through it would get zapped and stick to the plates. Once a month you have to pull the two plates sections out and you can either rinse and brush them clean, or put them in the dishwasher.

The ZAPPING would get annoying, and would signal it was time to clean it. Kinda like having a bug zapper in your ducts.

Electronic air cleaners were big in the 90's and perhaps early 2000's, but don't think I've seen one sold in the last 15 years. No zapping noise with the duct mounted air cleaners / ionizers, added they are about the same cost as a EAC, but from what science tells us, are more effective with less strain on the static pressure.
 
   #6  

MossRoad

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Electronic air cleaners were big in the 90's and perhaps early 2000's, but don't think I've seen one sold in the last 15 years. No zapping noise with the duct mounted air cleaners / ionizers, added they are about the same cost as a EAC, but from what science tells us, are more effective with less strain on the static pressure.

It came with the house when we bought it around 95-96. Honeywell, I believe. It died about 10 years ago. Someday I'm just gonna gut it and put in "normal" filters. For now, I just wash the screens often. We don't have a big dust problem yet, but the kittens are now 2 years old, and pet dander is starting to show up again.

Speaking of pet dander, I believe that is the largest source of "dust" in a house with cats and dogs. I came to this unscientific conclusion this way:

When you sit in a sunny room and slap your couch, and you see dust fly up into the rays of sun.

The cat died and we had no cat for 6 months. We continued our 2x weekly vacuuming as normal.

After just a few weeks, the house was noticeably less dusty. After a couple months, if you'd slap the couch on a sunny day, you'd hardly get a spec of dust into the rays of sunshine.

From that, I concluded the cat was the culprit.

We got a couple kittens after 6 months, and even then, there was no dust until the cats became adults. Then the dust started to return.

It's pet dander, folks.

But they're so cute! :laughing:
 
   #7  

Sigarms

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   #9  

ponytug

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It came with the house when we bought it around 95-96. Honeywell, I believe. It died about 10 years ago. Someday I'm just gonna gut it and put in "normal" filters. For now, I just wash the screens often. We don't have a big dust problem yet, but the kittens are now 2 years old, and pet dander is starting to show up again.

Speaking of pet dander, I believe that is the largest source of "dust" in a house with cats and dogs. I came to this unscientific conclusion this way:

When you sit in a sunny room and slap your couch, and you see dust fly up into the rays of sun.

The cat died and we had no cat for 6 months. We continued our 2x weekly vacuuming as normal.

After just a few weeks, the house was noticeably less dusty. After a couple months, if you'd slap the couch on a sunny day, you'd hardly get a spec of dust into the rays of sunshine.

From that, I concluded the cat was the culprit.

We got a couple kittens after 6 months, and even then, there was no dust until the cats became adults. Then the dust started to return.

It's pet dander, folks.

But they're so cute! :laughing:

Yup. Pet dander. We have large german shepherds, who are active outside on the ranch, cattle herding, and general protection work (think feral pigs). They come inside at night.

We have a Honeywell electronic air cleaner as well. One of the twin 20x20 cell units. It came with house, previously owned by a HVAC system installer.

For years, I was unimpressed with the performance. Yes, we vacuum up the dog hair regularly, but there was always a film of dust accumulating. After a recent lightning storm (not pointing fingers), the dust started really accumulating. Eventually, I thought to look at the air cleaner, and noticed it's magic neon light was out. I pulled out the electronics (easy job), but couldn't see an obviously blown component, but I ordered a new power supply. It is an updated design, but a drop in replacement. Fifteen minutes after I received the power supply, it was running again. I noticed that in the new one, the magic neon light didn't flicker, and took a second look at the old one and found a bad cold solder joint on a ceramic item that obviously had been arcing for some time, and was I suspect the reason why it never worked well.

The new new unit works great. There is almost no dust in the house now. It also works way, way better on smoke than the old one ever did.

I bought the power supply from Bel-Aire electronic air cleaners. I found them very easy to work with and they have lots of information on their website.

FWIW: We switched to a different dog hair brush recently; it has substantially reduced the little drifts of dog hair around the house. Our dog is a ranch dog that comes in and out, so all sorts of things come in with her. But you have to be up for brushing your dog regularly.

We recently had the AC/furnace inspected with no issues on the coils. All clean.

All the best,

Peter
 

jaxs

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Having seen many systems with Electro-"something or other" filters,I haven't been impressed by any of them. There are special applications such as clean rooms and labs that benifit from the technology used in conjunction with high effeciency filtering but non where used as primary means of filteration. The trure test of a filter is whether dust or lint is visiable in ductwork downstream. IMO it's only a buzz phrase to sale high profit add on to new hvac installs. I look foward to Runner weighing in on this subject. The invoroment he work's with lend's it self but I'm not sure he is involved with that.
 
 
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