The Ins and Outs of Cottonwood Screens (A Cottonwood Filter FAQ)

Cottonwood ScreensCottonwood trees can grow 100 feet tall and shed what seems to be an endless amount of seedlings. These white fluffs blow around outside, where they are easily sucked into rooftop HVAC units at rates up to 23,000 cfm. This can result in reduced air filter life, impaired airflow, and pricey repairs. Many of these problems, and associated costs, can be eliminated with cottonwood screens. Cottonwood screens attach to air intake openings, keeping cottonwood out of HVAC equipment along with many other contaminants that threaten to foul your system.

Our customers often have lots of questions about cottonwood screens, and we’ve answered the most frequently asked ones here.

Is a cottonwood screen and an air intake screen the same thing?

Yes. Because cottonwood is such a significant problem in some areas, many people refer to the product as a “cottonwood screen” or a “cottonwood filter.” Because the screen fits over an air intake opening, they are also commonly referred to as an “air intake screen” or “air intake filter,” particularly in areas where cottonwood is not a significant problem.

Do I really need a cottonwood screen?

Yes. Just a few cottonwood seedlings wouldn’t seem to do a lot. But each cottonwood tree can release more than 25 million seeds a year, and seeds can travel up to five miles away. So you can imagine what sort of trouble all that cottonwood can do to a rooftop HVAC unit. Of course, a cottonwood screen not only protects units from cottonwood but from all sorts of debris including leaves, dirt, seeds, insects, dust and pollen. They prolong equipment life, help you save considerable maintenance and cleaning costs, and reduce energy consumption (and utility bills). By making HVAC equipment work better and more efficiently, cottonwood filters also ensure cleaner air which can improve employee productivity and health, and keep computer equipment performing better and lasting longer.

How often do I need to clean my cottonwood screen?

It depends on the environment around you, and the time of year. For example, cottonwood trees can lose their seedlings from May through October. During the worst of the season, you may want to check the screen every week or two, although typically you can check it less often.

How much downtime will I need when I clean my PreVent cottonwood screen?

None. Since PreVent air intake screens can simply be brushed down, in place, you won’t need any downtime to clean them. You can also vacuum or clean them with a hose. If you clean them with a high-pressure hose make sure you remove the screens first, to avoid damaging the fins behind them.

Will I still need to perform coil cleanings?

Yes, but not as often. One of the main advantages of a cottonwood screen is keeping your coils clean, which lessens the need for frequent cleanings. Customers of our PreVent® air intake filters typically save 25% or more in their coil cleaning costs alone.

Just make sure you install your cottonwood screens over a clean coil! Clean coils are important to ensure long and optimal HVAC equipment performance. According to EPA research, just 0.042″ of dirt on an air conditioning coil can reduce its efficiency by 21%. Dirty coils can increase energy and cleaning costs by more than $22,000 a year per unit!

Why are cottonwood screens made from polypropylene?

Not only is polypropylene a hardy, sturdy material that can withstand the rigors of a rooftop environment, but polypropylene is also resistant to abrasion, most acids, alkalis, bleaches, solvents, aging, corrosion, high-velocity airflow, and industrial cleaning and maintenance.

Will my PreVent cottonwood screen fit my air intake?

Our PreVent air intake filters are custom-made and so can fit any air intake, no matter how big or small. We can design them to fit into any shape or size, including around pipes or other obstacles.

Will a PreVent cottonwood screen restrict airflow?

Not at all. PreVent air intake filters have been designed and tested for their low resistance to airflow and lack of interference with equipment performance when properly installed and maintained.

We use third-party testing to verify the effectiveness of our PreVent air intake filters. In fact, independent testing has shown that using a PreVent air intake filter causes a less than 1% change in compressor discharge pressure.

Is a PreVent cottonwood screen easy to install?

Yes. PreVent air intake filters can be installed in just minutes with our patented MagnaMount® earth magnets, or magnetic strips. No tools or drills are needed, and the air intake filters are simply snapped into place. The magnets are strong enough to keep the cottonwood screen in place even during the windiest conditions. They can also be removed for cleaning, or to access the inside of HVAC equipment, just as easily and quickly.

Does a PreVent filter come with a warranty?

Yes, our PreVent filters, like many of our filters, come with a 5-year warranty.

PreVent: the simply better cottonwood screen

Get smart about saving money. PreVent air intake screens are not only the best cottonwood screens you can buy, but they have been shown to reduce maintenance, system downtime and filter change-outs by almost two-thirds. Their list of benefits is long—they are washable, UV protected for indoor and outdoor use, and fit any equipment air intake including industrial compressors, refrigeration coolers, blowers, fans and electronic enclosures. Since they are corrosion resistant, they are also excellent choices in hostile environments containing salts, acids or other reactive gases.  With numerous frame, shape and mounting options, it’s easy to see why a Permatron PreVent cottonwood screen is simply the better choice.

Contact us to order your PreVent cottonwood screen today!

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