Allergies affect millions of people every year, especially in the spring when pollen counts soar. If you or anyone in your home suffer due to airborne allergens, then installing HEPA filtration in your home HVAC system could be a game-changer. HEPA filters remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. They provide a huge improvement in indoor air quality and help relieve symptoms caused by airborne allergens.
What Is a HEPA Filter?
A HEPA filter removes certain kinds of particles from the air. HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air.” HEPA filters are pleated mechanical filters made of a mixture of thin fiberglass and activated carbon. The arrangement of fibers and the pleated structure of the filter are what make it able to effectively capture airborne particles. In contrast, standard mechanical filters are made from thin sheets of materials such as cotton or polyester.
To be classified as a HEPA filter, it must be capable of removing at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any other airborne particles that are 0.3 microns (0.0003 millimeters) in diameter. HEPA filters are tested and rated against 0.3 micron particles because this particle size is the hardest size for the filter to trap. This means that, by definition, a HEPA filter is at least 99.97% effective at removing airborne particles of any size.
Some HEPA filtration systems can also help remove airborne virus particles from the air, but their ability to do so is limited. Most viruses are extremely small, ranging in size from 20 to 200 nm (0.002 to 0.2 microns). This means that HEPA filtration alone isn’t enough to remove all virus particles from the air inside a home.
How Does a HEPA Filter Work?
These filters work by forcing air through the filter. The mesh is so fine that it captures airborne particles such as:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Tobacco smoke
HEPA filtration systems can also trap and remove bacteria and mold from the air.
HEPA filters trap particles of different sizes using three different methods:
- Interception traps mid-sized particles that stick to fibers on the pleated filter mat.
- Impaction traps larger particles that embed into the filter mat.
- Diffusion works on particles of less than 0.1 micron by making them more vulnerable to interception and impaction. This is how a HEPA filter can trap tiny gas and odor-causing molecules that are less than 0.1 micron in size.
The Benefits of a HEPA Filter at Home
The air you breathe at home isn’t necessarily dirty, but it’s full of tiny particles that are too small to see. Things like pollen, animal dander, and dust are constantly in the air both inside and outside. Household cleaning helps reduce the levels of airborne particles, but even the cleanest house still has airborne dust and other particulate matter. Installing a HEPA filter changes that because it’s so effective at removing microscopic particles from the air.
Install a HEPA filter in your home HVAC system, and it instantly starts working to trap and remove allergens such as pet dander and pollen. Once the filter has captured these particles, they’re permanently removed from the air. With this type of filter installed, your heating and cooling system is constantly working to remove airborne particles, including many kinds of allergens and microorganisms.
If you or a family member is allergic to any airborne allergens, installing a HEPA filter can help relieve symptoms such as:
- Runny nose and eyes
- Sinus congestion
It’s important to remember that airborne particles aren’t the only allergens in your home. If you have a pet, for instance, the pet itself is still a source of allergens. If you’re allergic to dust mites, then soft furnishings are still a source of allergens, even with a HEPA filter. Installing a HEPA system isn’t a cure-all, but it is an additional way to reduce allergens in your home.
How to Shop for a HEPA Filtration System
If you’re looking to install a HEPA filter in your central cooling and heating system, it’s important to consult with an HVAC professional like the ones at CW Service Pros. This is important for two reasons
- To ensure you install a HEPA filter that’s the right size for your HVAC system and home
- To ensure the filter is installed correctly – Incorrect installation can reduce the lifespan of both the filter and your heating and cooling system, so it’s vital to get it right.
Look for “TRUE HEPA” Filters, Not “HEPA-Type” Filters
Not all filters that have the HEPA label actually qualify as true HEPA filters in terms of the size of particles they can trap.
If you want a genuine HEPA filter, look for one that’s labeled “True HEPA” or “Absolute HEPA.” These filters have been subjected to extensive testing to confirm they do meet the HEPA standards as outlined above. If it’s called a “HEPA-Type” filter, for instance, it hasn’t undergone that testing and doesn’t qualify as a HEPA filter.
How do HEPA Filters Compare to Other HVAC Filters?
The performance of different filters is classified by a MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting values). It’s a measurement of how well the filter is able to capture particles that are between 0.3 and 10 microns in size. The higher the MERV rating is, the better the filter’s performance. For most residential and commercial uses, MERV ratings go from 1 at the lowest end to 16 at the highest. Filters above this level are mostly used in locations like hospitals, laboratories, and sterile manufacturing and processing plants.
HEPA filters don’t have an official MERV rating because the tests that determine MERV ratings can’t be applied to HEPA filters. In general, however, HEPA filters are considered to have an effective MERV rating of at least 17. This means that true HEPA filters are superior to all other home HVAC filter options.
For Allergy Sufferers, a HEPA System Improves Your Home Comfort
Allergies can cause all kinds of unpleasant symptoms that make you feel miserable. And it’s even worse to have to suffer these symptoms at home—the place that should be the most comfortable! Installing a HEPA filter in your home heating and cooling system can greatly reduce airborne allergens, improving your indoor air quality and helping to relieve allergic symptoms.
At CW Service Pros, we can install HEPA filters and give advice about other ways to improve your indoor air quality. Give us a call today!