Ask An Architect Volume 2
I thought of you when my neighbor told me this story, it seems you know quite a bit about homes due to your business. She just had a germicidal UV Cleaner installed at $750 dollars. Is a germicidal UV cleanser necessary? I suffer from allergies and asthma and feel like I’ve been on a huge learning curve with owning my first home! I’m not sure if I should invest in one of these cleaners or not, let me know your thoughts.
Thanks a bunch, Camellia
We looked these products up online to get more information for you. It looks like the UV Germicidal Cleaner is part of a forced-air system that exchanges the air and puts it through a UV filter as well as a particle filter to “kill off” bacteria, some Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and odors. We really can’t be sure how well these would work. In order to be effective, it would have to be on all the time, so there would be a certain amount of additional energy cost. From what we could tell, the UV unit is encased, so hopefully there would be no human exposure to it. It might be worthwhile to install a solar panel to power a unit such as this.
Here are some other considerations:
1. VOCs are not a big problem in older homes. They are associated mainly with new materials and paint, especially new carpeting. Of course, if you are doing a refinishing project, such as varnishing, you will want to buy “low VOC” products.
2. Odors can be complicated. We would have different suggestions, based on the type of odor. House smells (mildew), cooking, bathroom, pets, cleaning products, are all sources of odors. Some, but not all, of these odors might affect your allergies and breathing issues.
3. Micron particle filtering can be helpful, but it is more important to reduce dust collectors in the house, such as carpeting. We recommend hard surface flooring, such as wood, for your situation. And a built-in vacuum system that exhausts to the outside. (This type of vacuum system is good “bang for the buck” for people with allergies.)
4. We recommend that you buy a new pillow every year. Even when you wash the pillowcase, the pillow harbors lots of allergens, including dust mites.
5. Double-check with your friend about how much air movement the unit causes. Air movement is a hazard to allergy sufferers. You really want to have all the dust and particles to stay put, not push them around everywhere so that they can fly up your nose before they even get to the air filter! Larger ducts create less air disturbance, and smaller ones create more velocity and air movement.
6. Consider removing (or designing rooms) with less shelving, no windowsills, and less flat surfaces that collect dust.
OK, so that’s about all we came up with in answer to your question. I hope it helps!
–D. Michael Kastrop, AIA