Trane Clean Air Effects...


Trane's "whole house" air cleaner (well, sorta, when the house fan is set to "on" instead of auto, or the heating or cooling causes the furnace fan to run, the filter "runs").
I had it installed week before last thinking it might be a real good thing, my elderly mother has a serious lung condition and is on oxygen 24/7, and I moved out here recently and immediately began having lots of problems with allergy-type things so thought this might be a help. She already had two "Ironic" Breezes (which IMHO do "almost nothing") but I had read an ad of this Trane unit actually doing something. She has two cats, that is probably 99% of the problem, but I thought this filter might help with that.
My question is about the final filter - described as hundreds of tiny straws clustered together. It seems insulting to spend huge sums on a good filter, only to be left with real doubts about it, maybe I'm just being ignorant. There were electronic filters before, they performed very poorly (they arced more than they cleaned anything, and I'm convinced they let an awful lot of large particles go on through, and some of the techs have told me the gaps between the collector plates and ionizing wires were so big a lot DID get through). This Trane unit is supposed to be better.
The final filter, which I'd think is supposed to do what the plates would do on an older filter with ionizing wires (this uses needles instead) is said to be cleanable by "vacuuming (preferred) or washing with a gentle spray, even going so far as to using warm water if tobacco smoke made the element difficult to clean."
At least it says to do the vacuuming outside, I do have HEPA bags on the vacuum cleaners, but then again, there has to be a better way. Filters I've had in the past with collector plates are very reluctant to "give up" the dirt accumulated, and you had to be very careful to clean, but not damage, the ionizing wires, I used Q-tips and alcohol. On this unit, the "charging" plate with the needles is supposed to be cleaned only by a professional and the technicians told me they plan to use styrofoam "sticks" to clean the needles.
But that final "hundreds of straws" white final filter that must be to catch fine particulates - such vague cleaning instructions make me wonder how cleanable it is - and how durable it is. The instructions do recommend cleaning both halves outdoors (real brainstorm there) but the only thing to clean it with is water, if need be, but vacuuming only is recommended. Is this really going to be enough and does this mean this plastic filter element is going to last a long time? This was an expensive venture, I hope so... thanks for any advice.
Bill in KC
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You may have been better off to have gotten a whole house powered HEPA filter. These install into the return air path of the furnace, and can be set to run like this Trane. They filter either part of the air stream, or the whole air stream, up to 1200CFM. They use the same ECM motor as most furnaces, so they can be synchronized to run the same air flow rates as the furnace.
Failing this investment (it isn't cheap), a much more economic solution is to use higher surface area filters. It helps to change out the filter holder to allow for 2" or 4" deep filters. These deeper filters DO NOT filter better than the good 1" filters. Their advantage is a less frequent change interval. MERV11 filters in a 1" deep filter probably need to be changed every 6 weeks. For the same MERV rating, the deeper filters extend the change interval before they load up with dirt enough to cause the fan in the furnace to suffer.
And if you have a 20x20x1, or 20x24x1, or 24x24x1 filter holder on this furnace, you can use the commercial bag filters. MERV11 with 30 or more square feet of filter media, they cost about the same as a premium MERV 11 1" filter, but only need to be changed once or twice a year.
Non-entity wrote:

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One thing your Ionic breesses do well it output ozone, o3, Google Ozones harmfull effects, if those units are very close to you it might be an issue, second hand smoke is now a proven concern.
Over possible future liability concerns Sharper Image has put on a catylist to convert lung damaging O3 to Oxygen, but a simple look at the design will point out likely 60% of the O3 air does not go through them. Junk your ionic breeses they don`t do enough anyway. For a full review of air filters look at Consumers Reports testing, and the lawsuit they won againt Sharper Images Ionic breese..
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Non-entity wrote: ...

Have one of those still and can attest to the significant difference in visible dust motes and in obvious improvement in my mother's allergies that they are quite effective for dust and pollen allergens. Don't know about actual measured by particle size efficiencies, but if whole house (as other respondent notes) and run, I'm convinced they are very effective for that purpose. Whether that's what is needed for your mother's best improvement is another question.
--db in sw ks
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cats. I just moved to KC six months ago and notice there seems to be more "stuff" in the air in general, too - I'm used to the mid atlantic reigon where there isn't much wind - there is lots of pollen, though, at certain times of the year. The cat dander and dust really bothers me as well. As far as medical advice, well, her doctors say the same thing my doctor says - "might help, might not." It does seem there is more dust in the air here than I'm used to (used to live in the mid-atlantic reigon) and I notice a lot more wind here, so I was looking for at least a bit of improvement.
My biggest concern here is, have I bought an expensive air filter that can't be practically cleaned? I've seen some messages discussing this model that suggest the final filter might only last two years or so. If so I hope Trane doesn't have replacement "honeycomb" filters - I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that I was getting rid of perpetual filter expense with this unit. The instructions seem to have been written to be very vague about cleaning. I can always carefully clean the pre-filter, I'm used to that, but the filter AFTER the ionizer seems to be a mystery! The instructions say to clean the honeycomb filter with a "vacuum, preferably outdoors." Water, as from a sink dish-sprayer, if absolutely necessary, and at the most - WARM water.
As I had written before, this house USED to have a Honeywell electronic air cleaner, then replaced with an earlier Trane (I think). This is the third, expensive attempt. With recently replaced windows, hence a tighter house, hopefully the Trane Air Effects will be of some help. The design of this filter seems good, with the ionizer needle array, but I just don't know how that final filter is going to get cleaned. Magic :\\{ ??
Thanks, KC Bill
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