Calendar icon February 6, 2023

What Is An Electrostatic Air Filter?

Raise your hand if you learned about static electricity as a kid by rubbing a balloon on your head and watching your hair cling to it. Now, if you actually raised your hand while reading this, put it down. People are staring.

You probably thought that static electricity was pretty cool but didn't really serve any practical purpose for you in your life. Beyond not lighting yourself on fire at the gas station, you were right, until now. It turns out that the very air you breathe is affected by static electricity. How? With air filters, of course! What the heck else would we be talking about?

Certain air filters actually use static electricity to catch particles as they pass through the filter media. These are known as electrostatic air filters. Now when you google electrostatic air filter, you'll usually find a wealth of information about washable/reusable air filters. Within the general public's knowledge of air filters, electrostatic air filter has become synonymous with washable air filter, but that's actually not fully correct. Electrostatic is merely a feature of washable filters, and it's not exclusive to them. Let’s dive in.

What is electrostatic?

We've reached the science part of the blog. Here we're going to talk about static electricity and how filters use it. Feel free to skip this part if you took Static Electricity 201 in college. If you only took 101, you might want to read this. It will be on the test.

Anybody who has ever played with a magnet knows that the opposite poles on the magnet attract. If you try to stick like poles together, they repel. The same principle is what creates the static electricity that electrostatic air filters use.

Static electricity is caused by a difference in the charges of particles. Particles are made of atoms, and atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Atoms that have the same number of protons and electrons are neutral and have no charge. When a neutral atom gains or loses an electron, it becomes charged.

Electrostatic air filters are made of filter media that undergoes a process to "charge" it, thereby creating that attractive quality. Sometimes, multi-layer washable filters contain layers of materials meant to charge particles as they pass through, making the job of the attractive layer of the filter easier.

Instead of getting pulled through the filter and physically caught and blocked by filter material, the particles are actually attracted to the filter media because of physics. It's pretty neat in theory. In practice, well, we'll get into that in a second.

What filters are electrostatic?

As stated, electrostatic simply means "uses static electricity." Nothing about the term automatically identifies a filter as washable or reusable. Washable filters are electrostatically charged. Since that's how they are typically marketed, it's become a general understanding that that is what an electrostatic filter is. However, most pleated filters are electrostatic as well.

Unlike filters of the washable variety, pleated filters don't have to be charged to have an electrostatic element. Some are, and as a result, produce a powerful electrostatic field that helps catch the smallest of particles. Uncharged filters still create a field based on what they're made of. Because of that, they produce a weaker field and rely more on mechanical filtering.

Mechanical filtering just means that the filter physically blocks pollutants. It's the most common filtering technique and the one that pleated and fiberglass primarily rely on.

Fiberglass filters can hold something of a static charge, but it's not enough to actually make it an effective filtering device. They're still garbage.

So what are washable air filters?

Washable air filters are almost all electrostatic air filters. The selling point is they can be cleaned and used for several years before it is time to buy a new one. On paper, that seems like a groundbreaking innovation in the filter industry. But that's just paper. In reality, it's pretty easy to see the holes. Did you see what we did there? We made a joke about crappy air filters because they have big holes in them. Get it? Do you get it? Ok. Sorry. It won't happen again.

There are some advantages to the washable air filter, and most are pretty straightforward. Washable filters can save you money on filters in the long run. Instead of replacing it every three months, you just wash it out, let it dry, and replace it. These guys run anywhere between $30 and $80 and typically last around three years, although some can last as long as five. So obviously, there is some money to be saved by spending less than $100 on air filters over several years.

That's about where the advantages end. Remembering to change your pleated filter can be hard (unless you use a particular home wellness company *wink* *wink*). Remembering and actually finding the time to wash, vacuum, and dry your washable filter? Not so easy.

When you do remember to wash them, you better make sure you do a thorough job. If you don't, you're inserting a dirty filter back into your home. That completely defeats the purpose of a washable air filter. Even cleaned, if you don't dry it completely, it can grow mold. You don't want either of those things.

From an actual filtering perspective, washables are better than cheap fiberglass, because what isn't? Still, they don't really measure up to pleated filters, especially when it comes to larger and more common pollutants like pollen.

Now you may have noticed that we said washable filters are "almost exclusively electrostatic." Many washable filters also do have a mechanical element that is made of similar material to a pleated filter. The problem is that this filter media cannot be woven tightly, as it would affect the filter's ability to build a charge and make it exceptionally hard to clean. The result is that the mechanical element does virtually nothing and is less efficient than even fiberglass (Gasp!).

Why don’t washable air filters measure up to pleated?

Pleated filters are naturally electrostatic.

Washable filters kind of live off in their own world when it comes to air filters. They work so differently than a pleated or even fiberglass filter that the MERV rating isn't particularly applicable to them, thereby making their efficiency harder to understand.

Basically, this is how it works. Filters that have a mechanical element always become less effective. The smaller particles are, the better they are at finding holes in the filter—they're small. With washables, the exact opposite is true.

Because there is no reliable mechanical element with a washable filter, static electricity is the only thing that stops pollutants from passing right through. Washable electrostatic filters are more effective against smaller particles, as they have an easier time pulling them in with their electrostatic forces. Bigger particles require a stronger electrostatic force to attract and as a result have a much easier time slipping past the static electricity.

The lack of mechanical filtering can lead to other issues as well, such as particles just kind of falling off the filter and back into the air every time you take it out. Seriously, that may sound really stupid, but it's actually a real problem.

Statically charged pleated filters combine the electrostatic element to target small particles with the mechanical element to target large particles, making them the most effective across the entire spectrum of particle size.

Pleated filters also become more effective as they age because of the buildup of particles, which actually helps block more particles. The opposite is again true with purely electrostatic washable filters. Once dust and pollutants have coated the entire filter, the static electricity is weakened significantly. Since this force is the only thing that stops particles, all that nastiness can flow right through the filter.

Washable filters, because of their multiple layer construction, also have an extremely high initial pressure drop. If you're unfamiliar with that term, it basically means that airflow through the filter is initially lower than other types of filters. If airflow dips too low, your HVAC unit can struggle to pull in enough air and have to work harder. This costs you more on your heating and cooling bill and may potentially blow out the motor. Pleated filters don't really have this problem unless you leave them in the vent for way too long.

Electrostatics is some pretty cool science, but ultimately it's not particularly useful on its own. It can give a nice boost to a well-constructed pleated air filter, but it's not really enough to get the job done on its own.

How are pleated filters charged?

As mentioned above, pleated filters fall into two categories when discussing electrostatic air filters. Some are charged with a charging procedure while they're being built. This is done with a process involving a bunch of tiny needles, but we won't get into that because it will probably bore you out of your skull.

Some, typically the lower MERV-rated varieties, are not charged. These still carry a natural charge because of their construction material, and their charge actually increases over time as the air passing through the filter helps to build up a little bit of a charge.

Pleated filters give you the best of both worlds. Even varieties that aren't intentionally charged still outpace reusable filters. The good news is that if you want to buy a pleated filter, you're already on a website that sells them!

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SFR Property Management Problems and Solutions

In recent years, the single-family residence (SFR) rental market has seen significant growth as more property owners recognize the potential for steady income and long-term appreciation. With this rise in popularity comes a unique set of challenges for the rental property managers (PMs) who are tasked with overseeing these properties. Unlike multi-family units, managing single-family homes can present a range of issues that require tailored solutions. Scattered-site properties also present a logistical challenge, as they are by nature harder to service and manage. From finding quality residents to handling unexpected maintenance emergencies, a strategic and proactive approach is required to ensure a smooth and profitable rental experience. Note that even though we here at Second Nature prefer the term "resident" over "tenant" in order to foster the human element, the word "tenant" may still be used occasionally due to its long-standing legal and real estate context. What Are the Most Common Property Management Challenges? The most common problems faced by SFR property managers generally fall into three buckets: finding quality residents; maintenance and repairs; and time management and communication. Let's explore each. #1 Finding Quality Residents One of the most critical aspects of managing SFRs is resident placement. Indeed, inadequate resident screening processes can significantly impact resident retention as well as profitability. That’s because poor screening can lead to high turnover rates (including evictions), increased property wear and tear, and ultimately, financial strain. Additionally, attracting responsible residents who will treat the property with care and adhere to lease agreements can be particularly challenging in competitive rental markets. #2 Maintenance and Repairs Unexpected maintenance issues are a common hassle for SFR property managers. From plumbing leaks to HVAC failures, emergencies can arise without warning, leading to unplanned expenses and logistical challenges. Finding reliable and responsive contractors who are able to address repairs promptly adds yet another layer of complexity. The inability to swiftly manage these issues can result in resident dissatisfaction as well as potential property damage. #3 Time Management and Communication Managing multiple single-family homes requires excellent time management skills. Balancing the diverse needs of residents, coordinating with vendors, and ensuring regular property inspections can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s essential to establish clear and timely communication channels to maintain good resident relationships and efficient operations. However, juggling these responsibilities can lead to lapses in communication, resulting in time-consuming misunderstandings and unresolved issues. Solutions for a Smoother SFR Rental Experience While the challenges of managing SFR rentals are significant, there are effective strategies and tools available to streamline operations and enhance resident satisfaction. Here are some solutions to common property management business problems. Strategic Resident Screening Implementing a robust resident screening process is crucial for minimizing vacancy rates and securing responsible residents. To this end, utilizing professional screening services can help identify prospective tenants by thoroughly evaluating their rental history, credit scores, and background checks. Clear lease terms and expectations should be established from the outset to ensure residents understand the responsibilities and obligations that occupancy brings. Learn more: Tenant Screening Tips for PMs 10 Steps to Onboard New Tenants Proactive Maintenance Proactive maintenance is key to preventing costly emergencies and maintaining the property’s condition. Scheduling regular preventative maintenance inspections allows property managers to identify and address potential issues before they escalate. Building relationships with reputable and responsive repair professionals ensures that maintenance tasks and requests are handled promptly. Consider leveraging technology that allows residents to conduct their own regular inspections to provide early detection of problems and streamline the property maintenance process (learn more). Vendor and Supplier Selection Choosing the right property management service providers and vendors is crucial to successful property management. Establishing relationships with reliable and responsive contractors ensures that maintenance and repair issues are addressed promptly, reducing downtime and inconvenience for renters. It’s essential to vet vendors thoroughly, checking their credentials, references, and reviews to ensure they meet the necessary quality and reliability standards. Building a network of trusted professionals can lead to better service rates, priority scheduling, and consistent adherence to due dates as well as work quality standards. Additionally, negotiating long-term contracts with preferred vendors can offer cost savings and a more streamlined management process. By prioritizing quality vendor and supplier selection, property managers can enhance the overall efficiency of their operations and maintain high tenant satisfaction. Technology and Automation Incorporating technology and automation into property management can significantly enhance efficiency and communication. For instance, online portals for collecting rent payments and addressing maintenance requests simplify transactions and ensure transparency. They can also facilitate incentives for prompt rent payment, follow up on late payments, and generally optimize rent collection with an eye to optimizing cash flow. Property management software can also streamline vendor and tenant communication, track maintenance schedules, and provide detailed financial reporting. These tools not only save time but also build trust and improve resident satisfaction by ensuring quick and effective responses to their needs. Naturally, you will need to conduct a due diligence process of technology selection and provider assessment that addresses pricing, customer support, and support for the features that are mission-critical for your organization. Second Nature’s Outlook Effective property management is essential for maximizing the profitability and longevity of single-family home rentals. By addressing common challenges with strategic solutions, property managers can enhance resident satisfaction, reduce vacancy rates, and maintain the property’s value. Embracing technology and proactive management practices are critical components of any successful SFR business strategy. Property managers are encouraged to explore these solutions and adopt the approaches that best suit their specific needs. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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How to Craft a Notice to Tenant to Clean Property [with Template]

Ensuring that rental properties are well-maintained is crucial for property managers and landlords, not only to protect the value of their real estate investment but also to provide safe and pleasant living environments for residents. One important tool for maintaining property standards is a "Notice to Tenant to Clean Property" letter that communicates concerns about cleanliness and outlines necessary actions for residents. In today’s post we’ll cover essential elements you should consider around transparency and effectiveness, as well as a sample letter you can use to craft your own notice. A note on language: Here at Second Nature, we prefer to use the terms "resident" and “residency” rather than “tenant” and “tenancy,” in order to emphasize the human element of property management work. However, there may be instances where terms such as "tenant" are used for legal or industry-standard purposes within documents or communications. In these cases, please understand that our intent remains the same – to provide clear, accurate, and meaningful information to all people involved in the business relationship. What to Do When Your Tenant is a Hoarder? Hoarding can present significant challenges for property managers. It not only poses health and safety risks but can also lead to severe property damage. Here are steps to take when dealing with a hoarding situation: Understand the issue Hoarding is often a complex psychological condition that requires sensitivity and understanding. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy and awareness of the resident’s potential mental health needs. This understanding can guide your interactions and help you manage the situation more effectively. Conduct thorough inspections Regular property inspections are crucial for identifying hoarding behaviors early. These inspections should be conducted in accordance with the lease agreement and local laws. Document any findings with photographs and detailed notes to provide a clear record of the condition of the property. Communicate clearly and compassionately When addressing the issue with the resident, clear and compassionate communication is key. Explain the concerns and the potential consequences if the situation is not addressed. Emphasize that the goal is to ensure a safe and habitable living environment. Provide a formal notice If the hoarding issue violates the lease agreement, a formal "Notice to Clean Property" may be necessary (more on this below). Collaborate with professionals In severe cases, it may be beneficial to involve professionals who specialize in hoarding disorder. This can include social workers, mental health professionals, or professional organizers who can provide the resident with the necessary support to address their hoarding behavior. Follow legal procedures Ensure all actions taken are in compliance with local and state laws. This includes providing the correct amount of notice, following proper eviction procedures if necessary, and respecting the resident’s rights throughout the process. Document all actions Keep thorough records of all communications, inspections, and notices related to the hoarding issue. This documentation can be crucial if legal action becomes necessary and helps protect you as the property manager. By addressing hoarding with a combination of empathy, clear communication, and adherence to legal requirements, property managers can manage these challenging situations more effectively while maintaining the safety and integrity of their properties. Identifying When a "Notice to Clean Property" Letter is Necessary A "Notice to Clean Property" letter becomes necessary under various circumstances. It's essential to recognize these situations in order to maintain the property's value and condition, and to ensure compliance with lease agreements. Routine inspections Routine inspections are an integral part of property management, allowing managers to identify issues early and address them before they escalate. If an inspection reveals unsanitary conditions, excessive clutter, hoarding, or neglect of cleanliness, a formal notice is warranted. This proactive measure helps maintain the property and encourages residents to uphold their end of the lease agreement. Failing to address these issues promptly can lead to severe problems such as mold growth, pest infestations, plumbing issues due to neglected maintenance, and increased costs associated with turnover when a property is vacated. Complaints Neighbor complaints regarding cleanliness issues, such as uncollected trash, odors, or visible clutter, can indicate a need for intervention. Addressing these complaints promptly with a notice demonstrates that management is responsive to concerns and committed to maintaining a harmonious living environment. Ignoring such complaints can exacerbate the problem, leading to pest infestations that can create an unhealthy living environment for residents. Lease violations Most lease agreements include clauses that outline residents' responsibilities for maintaining the property in a clean and sanitary condition. When these clauses are violated, issuing a notice is necessary to enforce the lease terms and remind residents of their obligations. Failing to act on these violations can result in significant property damage, including plumbing issues from unaddressed leaks or blockages, mold growth from damp conditions, and ultimately, costly repairs and renovations needed to restore the property for the next resident. This can also lead to increased turnover costs, as the property may need extensive cleaning and repairs before it can be re-leased. The Importance of Clear Communication Open and effective communication is vital in property management, especially when addressing cleanliness issues. A clear, well-crafted notice helps prevent minor issues from becoming major problems and sets the stage for resolution. Proactive approach Early intervention through timely communication can prevent minor cleanliness issues from escalating into significant problems. Addressing concerns as soon as they are identified shows residents that management is diligent and proactive. Setting expectations A well-crafted notice clarifies expectations for resident maintenance responsibilities. By explicitly stating what is required, renters understand their obligations and the standards of occupancy they must meet. Documentation The notice serves as a documented record of the identified issue and the steps taken to address it. This documentation is crucial for protecting the property manager's interests if further action is needed, such as additional fees or eviction proceedings. Note that property managers can proactively address cleanliness and maintenance issues by clearly setting expectations with new tenants from the outset. This can be achieved by including a detailed cleanliness clause in the lease agreement, conducting a thorough walkthrough of the rental unit at move-in, and providing a welcome packet to ensure each tenant knows their responsibilities. During the initial walkthrough, managers should highlight specific cleaning requirements and standards, demonstrating proper care for different areas of the property. Regular communication, such as periodic reminders and tips for maintaining the property, can further reinforce these expectations and prevent issues from arising, ensuring a smooth and mutually respectful resident-PM relationship. Crafting a Compelling and Effective Notice Creating an effective "Notice to Clean Property" involves several key elements that ensure clarity and encourage compliance. Introduction Begin the written notice with a clear statement of its purpose as a formal notification regarding the property's cleanliness and upkeep condition. Include the property address and the resident's name(s) to avoid any confusion. Specific observations Detail the cleanliness issues observed during the inspection or reported by others. Use clear, descriptive language to ensure there is no ambiguity about the concerns. For example, instead of saying "the property is dirty," specify "dirty dishes are piling up, attracting roaches/pests; or “an abundance of waste materials is creating a health hazard/fire hazard." This also helps differentiate the cleanliness issue from normal wear and tear. Reference to lease agreement (optional) If applicable, cite relevant clauses in the rental agreement that outline the resident’s responsibility for maintaining the property in a clean and sanitary condition. This reference reinforces the legal basis for the notice and the resident's obligations – and helps ensure that you are respecting applicable tenant rights and state laws. Outline of expectations Clearly define the expected level of cleanliness and specific actions required to rectify the situation. A timeframe for follow-up is useful for helping the resident to address the issues, such as a 7-day notice period to clean. This approach gives residents a clear understanding of what needs to be done and by when. Consequences for non-compliance (optional) Briefly outline potential consequences for failure to address the cleanliness concerns within the designated timeframe. This might include increased inspections, withholding of security deposits, or legal action, including a potential order to vacate/eviction notice. Note that although it may well become necessary to instigate an eviction process, it’s important to maintain a professional tone and avoid excessive threats to encourage cooperation. Additional Considerations for Specific Situations Different scenarios may require tailored approaches when issuing a proper notice to clean the property. Health and safety hazards If the cleanliness issue poses a potential health or safety hazard, such as mildew/mold growth, pest infestations, or overflowing sewage, prioritize immediate action. In such cases, involving relevant authorities might be necessary to ensure the issue is resolved promptly and safely. Chronic offenders For residents with a history of neglecting cleanliness standards, consider outlining a stricter course of action. This might include increased inspections or even potential lease termination if the behavior continues. Clear documentation and a consistent approach are essential when dealing with chronic offenses. Delivery Methods and Maintaining Records Ensuring that the notice is delivered and documented correctly is crucial for effective property management. Delivery methods Consider the following methods for delivering the notice: Hand-delivery with a signed receipt: This method ensures the resident receives the notice and acknowledges its receipt. Certified mail with return receipt requested: This provides documented proof that the notice was sent and received. Other methods with documented proof of delivery: Any method that provides verifiable proof of delivery is acceptable. Maintaining records Retain copies of the notice, delivery confirmation, and any relevant communication for your records. This documentation is crucial if further action is necessary and serves as evidence that the issue was addressed appropriately. Free “Notice to Tenant to Clean Property” Template Providing a template can simplify the process for property managers. However, it's essential to note that legal advice is recommended to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. ``` [Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] [Date] [Resident's Name] [Property Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] Re: Notice to Clean Property Dear [Resident's Name], This letter serves as a formal notification regarding the cleanliness condition of the property located at [Property Address]. During a recent inspection conducted on [Date], the following issues were observed: - [Detail the specific cleanliness issues] As per the lease agreement, Section [Lease Section], you are required to maintain the property in a clean and sanitary condition. To rectify the situation, please take the following actions by [Specify Deadline, e.g., 14 days from the date of this letter]: - [List the specific actions required] Failure to address these concerns within the specified timeframe may result in [potential consequences, such as additional fees, increased inspections, or eviction proceedings]. We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please contact us at [Your Phone Number] if you have any questions or need further clarification. Sincerely, [Your Name] [Title] [Contact Information] ... Promoting a Culture of Responsibility Maintaining a clean and well-kept property is a shared responsibility between residents and property management. By promoting a culture of responsibility, property managers can create a positive living environment that benefits everyone involved. Encouraging residents to take pride in their living spaces and providing resources such as Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package (RBP) can foster this culture. The RBP can include regular maintenance tips, access to cleaning services, or rewards for maintaining high standards of cleanliness. Ultimately, a collaborative approach leads to what we at Second Nature call a "triple win" — residents enjoy a pleasant living environment, owners maintain their investments, and PMs have an easier role to play in maintaining these thriving, beneficial relationships. Learn more about Second Nature’s RBP.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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