Shared Knowledge

"Electronic Air Cleaners - Get Replaceable Filter Grills Installed"

16 August 2011


Summary: when electronic air cleaners are installed in a new home or during a remodel, it is normal for simple, flat, grills to installed over return ducts that do not take a replaceable air filter. Electronic air cleaners are not a substitute for replaceable air filters. Get grills installed that can take an air filter.



House remodeled in 1990 with new central high voltage air conditioning (HVAC) and electronic air cleaners.

The type electronic air cleaners I have consist of a metal cabinet right at the HVAC air handler that sits between the return air duct and the blower inside the air handler.

The type electronic air cleaners I have uses removable metal frames with metal plates and wires.

An electric charge is applied the wire and plates and air contamination is collected on the plates.

Once a quarter or so, the metal frames are placed in dishwasher and collected contamination is washed away.

Electronic air cleaners are great at removing cigarette smoke and other very fine air contaminates but not good at all at trapping dust.

When electronic air cleaners are installed, it is normal for the HVAC tradesmen to not install grills on the air return ducts that accept replaceable air filters.


Electronic air cleaners are not enough:

Never having lived in a house with central HVAC, I had no experience with replaceable air filters or electronic air cleaners.

For several years, I lived with the electronic air cleaners alone but noticed significant dust in several parts of the house.

In my case, all return duct openings were covered with a simple, flat, grill that could not accept a replaceable air filter.

Finally, I decided I would swap out my current return duct grills for a type that would accept replaceable air filters.

Lucky for me, duct returns are standard sizes and grills that accept air filters are available for most returns.

Once new grills installed with replaceable air filters, can not tell you how dirty air filters get in one calendar quarter and none of this trapped dirt was being collected by the electronic air cleaners!


Bottom line:

If you are having electronic air cleaners installed and do not have grills on your return ducts that accept replaceable air filters, insist the HVAC installer put grills on returns that accept replaceable air filters.


Ron - Shared Knowledge Home