Understanding Your HVAC Filter: Do I Really Need a HEPA Air Purifier?

What is a HEPA Filter?

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air filter and is designed to trap airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. Dust, mold, and bacteria 0.3 microns and larger will be filtered out in a HEPA with a 99.97% success rate. Larger particles are trapped with even greater efficiency, making this one of the best types of filters for effectively cleaning the air. Due to their superior cleaning capability, HEPA filters are in various air cleaners and air purifiers.

There are four main ways a HEPA filter will remove the particles that come through it out of the air circulating in the home. Most often, HEPA filters will be composed of interlaced glass fibers manipulated in various directions to create a fibrous maze to better trap the debris. Particles are removed by:

  • Direct Impaction: Larger particles and contaminants will be trapped upon direct impact when they come into contact with the filter.
  • Sieving: As the air pushes through, medium-sized particles travel through the fiber folds and become caught in the gaps.
  • Interception: The airflow will be able to reroute itself through the fibers, but due to the pressure of the flow, small particles will stick to these fibers as they work through.
  • Diffusion: The ultrafine particles tend to move more erratically than larger ones, and as they hit the different fibers when they bounce around, they will stick to the fibers.

How Long Does a HEPA Filter Last?

While HEPA filters successfully trap smaller particles, including dust mites, pet hair, pet dander, and bacteria, this debris will embed into the fibers and eventually block the pathways that the airflow travels to. When this occurs, they will become less effective and reduce the airflow, which can cause problems with the air purifier, air conditioning, or HVAC system it is filtering.

While HEPA filters used in vacuum cleaners for residential use can last for two to three years before needing to be changed, when used in air purifiers, they will filter air more often, especially if they cover a high number of sq. ft. As a result, they should be changed every six months to a year.

You may require filter replacement sooner if you notice that the airflow through your purifier is lessened or you notice a musty smell. In either case, it could indicate that the filter is not working efficiently.

What is Included in an HVAC Air Cleaner?

If you are concerned about VOCs, allergens, dust, wildfire smoke, and debris in the air in your home, then an HVAC air cleaner is a great way to improve the indoor air quality of your home. When you have household members that suffer from asthma or allergy symptoms, an air cleaner can reduce their risk of respiratory issues.

An HVAC cleaner will have a casing that holds a high-quality air filter. The case is designed to fit with your home’s ductwork or system so it can be placed directly in the airflow and trap the debris before the air is recirculated in your home. When choosing your air cleaner, you will also want to ensure the clean air delivery rate (CADR) will cover the right amount of cubic feet for your desired results.

Types of HVAC Air filtration and Air Purifier Technology

There is a wide range of filter types to choose from for your air purifier, depending on how you want your filter to function and the types of allergens that need to be removed. The main types of purification you can choose for your air purifier include:

  • HEPA Filters: A HEPA filter removes even the smallest particulate from the air in your home. While these filters are highly efficient, they do not work with every system.
  • Activated Carbon Filters: If you are most concerned about smoke, odors, and VOCs in your home, then an activated carbon filter may be your best choice. These filters have tiny pores that trap various contaminants on their way through.
  • UV Light Air Purifier Filter: If you are looking for a room air purifier or home air purifier that can address bacteria and viruses, UV light filters will work the best. UV light kills these organisms, so they don’t recirculate into the air.
  • Electrostatic Filters: A different filter designed to work on small and large particles is an electrostatic filter which will send a charge through air flowing through it. The electrostatic charge will grab the airborne particles and keep them on the filter until the filter is washed. With this system, you won't need replacement filters but will need to clean the filter every six months to a year.
  • Media Air Cleaners: These filters will attach directly to your HVAC handler and trap particles into it before they can pass into the recirculated air in the home. These filters are also designed to trap particles as low as 0.3 microns, making them an excellent option for all types of pollutants.

The Difference Between HEPA and True HEPA

A HEPA filter for an air purifier is one of the most common types of filtration systems used in residential and commercial use. When looking for HEPA filtration, you may find some filters deemed HEPA-like and others as true HEPA filters. If a filter is considered a true HEPA filtration device, it conforms to the Department of Energy standards for HEPA filters, achieving the highest efficiency rating of 99.97%. If you want a true HEPA air purifier and are unsure if it meets the requirements, check to see if it was third-party tested to prove that it meets DOE standards.

The Benefits of a Whole Home Air Purification System

Many benefits come with having a home air purification system. Some of the best benefits of an air purification system include:

  • Improved Health: The EPA states that indoor air can be anywhere from two to five times more contaminated than the air outdoors. Allergens, dust, mold spores, pollen, dander, and other pollutants can build up in the air in your home if not cleaned and lead to chronic respiratory issues and increased asthma and allergy symptoms. Home air purification systems can reduce these contaminants and allow you to breathe a little easier.
  • Cleaner Living Environment: Dust and pet dander move through the air circulating in your home and settle around the house, leaving dust on furniture and flooring. Mold and mildew can also form around your home when the spores are allowed to circulate through the air. You can reduce this buildup and create a better environment with an air cleaner.
  • Complete Cleaning Coverage: When you have a whole-house purification system instead of a room air purifier, you can rest assured that all of the air in your home is being filtered as it is returned to the system before being recirculated into the air in your home. This will allow you to enjoy fresh, clean air no matter whether you are in a small room, medium room, or large room.

Find Your Perfect Home Air Purification at Superior Home Supplies

Superior Home Supplies knows home crucial clean air is for your home. We offer a wide range of room-size air cleaners and whole house energy star filtration systems to allow you to enjoy a clean and healthy home no matter how many square feet your home is. Contact us today to learn more about our air cleaner systems.

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