Part of our forensic investigations involves removing and performing a quantitative analysis on every filter we pull from your HVAC system. We do this to ensure that no filter is bypassed and all your rooms are receiving adequate airflow. It also allows us to identify any contaminants or foreign materials in your HVAC system. That way, we know precisely what filtration is present and if it's sufficient for the components being filtered.
Types of HVAC Filter Issues
There are three types of HVAC filters problems that we look for during forensic investigations: clogging, pressure drop increase, airflow decrease, and pressure differential across the filter.
This is the most common form of filter failure. Over time, dust accumulates on your filter until it eventually restricts airflow to some degree. Often, a clogged filter can reduce airflow to half of what it originally was. We may want to swap in a replacement filter on the spot if a room with a clogged filter is too far gone and requires an immediate clean or replacement.
Pressure Drop Increase
Sometimes your system will have enough air pressure to push air through the clogged filter. Depending on how dirty your filter gets, you can expect an increased pressure drop as more dust accumulates. Pressure drop increase isn't as standard as a clogged filter, but it may occur if your system is severely restricted and has already exhausted other options for increasing airflow.
As airflow decreases, your system starts to overheat and must increase fan speed to compensate. This will slow down the heating or cooling process, but it's a preventative measure that kicks in if the airflow is highly restricted and isn't designed to be a normal operating mode.
Quantitative Filter Forensics
Aluminum particles have been shown to significantly increase surface-to-volume ratios in apoptotic cells and produce significant oxidative stress that would likely cause cellular damage. We run a spectrograph in our partner lab to determine if any trace amounts of heavy metals are present in the filter. Heavy metals have been correlated with not just lung disease but brain damage and developmental disorders as well. We use an ion counter to count particles per cubic centimeter. This helps us determine whether or not there are particles in your air that negatively impact indoor air quality.
Two types of devices can be used to perform quantitative filter forensics on HVAC filters: metal detectors and particle counters.
- Metal detectors can give you a complete quantitative analysis of large metallic particles. At the same time, the ion counter is more helpful in getting an idea of smaller nanoparticles or ions in your air.
- Particle counters are well-suited for identifying different particles present in your air, such as carbon or ammonium, and accurately determining their percentages.
Which devices you use depends on what type of information you're looking for. The ion counter may help check whether a filter passes ions to your air. On the other hand, a metal detector is more helpful in identifying large metallic particles, such as dust.
Industrial Filter Analysis
Lightning Mechanical offers comprehensive filter forensics for industrial installations. We are experienced with filtration requirements across many manufacturing and chemical processing industries and are up-to-date with the latest industry standards.
Whether you use fiberglass, cellulose, or synthetic HVAC filters, we can help determine whether or not your filters are suitable for the contaminants in your air and if they need to be replaced immediately. Our extensive resources allow us to identify any signs of degradation that may have occurred to your filters over time, including signs of mechanical degradation or chemical damage.
Our industrial filter forensics will determine whether your current filters are suitable for the environment in which they're installed, so you can stay up-to-date with any industry changes that may affect them.
Industrial Humidifier Analysis
Lightning Mechanical offers comprehensive industrial humidification analysis for wet air systems facilities. We are experienced with filtration requirements across many manufacturing and chemical processing industries and are up-to-date with the latest industry standards.
Our humidifier tests will determine if your plant can use a wet air system and what kind of filters you need to ensure they're running at maximum efficiency. By identifying any problems with your current filters or humidification equipment, we can prevent issues that might be harming the health and productivity of your employees.
Hospital Filter Analysis
We use the same equipment as our industrial filter analysis combined with specialist biological contaminant detection equipment to perform a broad range of tests on filters installed in healthcare facilities, including:
This test uses identical conditions to our chemical penetration tests except that it is exposed to bacteria instead of a corrosive chemical.
The results from this test will give you an idea of how the filter performs against the spread of bacteria and molds.
Data Center Filter Analysis
Data Center filtration systems are crucial to the protection of server room equipment. They handle a variety of gaseous contaminants that might damage your server's copper surfaces, solders, and motherboard circuitry.
The companies who design your servers or equipment recommend that you use specific filters to protect them, so it is essential to ensure they are installed correctly. Our data center filtration tests will determine if your air conditioning filters require replacement and can identify any damage they might have suffered through.
We also provide detailed reports on the efficiency of your filtration system as it relates to the amount of particulate pollution allowed on your filters and your facility's energy efficiency.
Commercial Establishment Filter Analysis
Because commercial buildings tend to experience higher foot traffic, their cooling system draws in more outdoor air. Commercial air conditioners need filters that keep vacuum pump oil out and the cool air indoors. If your filters are dirty or damaged, they will strain the cooling system excessively and wear out the moving parts more quickly. We offer full-service filter maintenance programs for commercial establishments to keep them operating at peak efficiency.
Filter Maintenance & Replacement Costs
We can provide recommendations on how often you should replace each type of filter in your facility based on the pollutants you are trying to remove from the air. It also depends on how much airflow your facility requires and its recommended operating hours.
Our maintenance programs include the cost of filter replacement, so you won't have to worry about keeping track of how often specific filters need to be replaced or purchase them yourself.
Multi-Family Residential Filter Analysis
We offer residential filter testing for multiple unit dwellings, including:
Building Air Leakage (BAL) Testing
We test every air-handling unit and the entire building's ventilation network to find any openings that allow unconditioned air into your building. If your system is heating or cooling unventilated attic or crawl spaces, your building wastes money and puts occupants at risk for health problems.
Air Particulate Matter Testing
Multifamily residential filters can also be tested for air particulate matter and chemical contaminants from household products. Our mission is to ensure every resident has the best indoor air quality possible regardless of their local environment.
We offer thorough filter inspection and testing to help ensure the health and safety of your building's occupants. You'll know exactly how well your air filters perform against a range of hazards, so you can work with us to establish a maintenance schedule.
Hire us as your HVAC System Filtration Expert Witness
We offer professional expert witness services for HVAC filtration. Our air duct testing and filtration analysis, combined with our knowledge of building ventilation networks, gives us the expertise needed to stand up in court as an expert witness or provide credible support for your case.
Send us an email at Craig@lightningmechanical.com to find out how we can expedite settlement or provide comprehensive reports to your legal support