Are HEPA Air Filters Necessary?

June 11, 2024
Are HEPA Air Filters Necessary?

High-efficiency particulate air filters are a class of filters that offer an extremely high rate of filtration. Capturing up to 99.73% of matter in the air down to a measurement of just 0.3 microns, HEPA filters are the go-to solution for removing many types of viruses, pollen, mold, bacteria, dust and debris from the air. However, you should know when HEPA filters are necessary, how they might cause problems if misused and how to address your indoor air quality needs with filtration.

When Are HEPA Filters Necessary?

The extreme level of filtration that comes with a HEPA system is essential in settings like clinics, labs and hospitals. Many factories in industries that require heightened air purity to keep contaminants out of materials also use HEPA filters.

In residential settings, HEPA filters are popular with individuals who have specific health concerns. Many people who have breathing issues use HEPA filtration to reduce irritants in their homes. The classic example would be a family with a child who has asthma. Similarly, someone who has a condition like COPD might install HEPA filtration in the home to minimize irritants.

Note that some systems require HEPA filters and shouldn’t use non-HEPA ones. For example, some modern HVAC systems also serve as whole-house HEPA filters. These systems operate at high efficiency levels with clean air, and you must install HEPA filters or you could reduce the lifespan of the system.

Potential Problems with HEPA Filters

As HVAC technicians, our main concern involves a HEPA filter being a mismatch with an existing heating or cooling system. You can purchase HEPA-grade filters at many stores, and they will physically fit into your HVAC unit’s filtration slots as long as they’re the right size.

However, physical compatibility with your HVAC doesn’t presuppose mechanical compatibility. That is, many HVAC systems can’t handle the constricted air supply that comes with a HEPA filter. If the system doesn’t support HEPA filtration, using a HEPA filter will cause mechanical strain and potentially shorten the operating life of the HVAC system.

HEPA Doesn’t Have to Slot into the HVAC

The main benefit of pairing HVAC and HEPA filtration is simplicity. After all, why add components to the system if you can put in a filter? If you’re sure that you need or want HEPA filtration in your home, you won’t be out of options just because the HVAC doesn’t support it. There are other ways to add HEPA filtration to a home without directly mounting it to heating and cooling systems.

One of the most common solutions is to install an air exchanger. The idea is to draw fresh air in before it reaches the HVAC. The exchanger provides a place to clean the air, and then the air can travel to the HVAC at a pressure that’s compatible with its normal operation.

Another alternative is to use an improved filter that isn’t a full-on HEPA filter. This solution might not work for people who have serious needs, but it can make a difference in less demanding settings.

Alternatively, electrostatic filters can use electrical charges to attract particles. While they won’t provide quite the extreme level of filtration associated with HEPA, they can clean the air enough to reduce irritation for most people. These filters are often reusable, too.

Finally, you might install an in-room solution. If you’re having trouble only at night, for example, you might install a standalone air filtration unit in your bedroom.

Deciding if HEPA Filtration Is Necessary

HEPA filters are excellent for a wide range of people, and the systems can significantly improve indoor air quality. The important thing is to figure out how much HEPA filtration makes sense for your situation. If you have an older HVAC that’ll soon require upgrades, for example, this is an excellent time to move to a unit that integrates HEPA filtration. Also, there may be medical reasons why you have to adopt HEPA filters. Remember, there are plenty of ways to implement HEPA filtration in your home.

Based in South Charleston, WV, at Mullen Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, we provide many types of plumbing and HVAC services, including installation, repair and maintenance. Specials and financing options for installation are available, too. Contact us today and discover why our neighbors have trusted us to handle their plumbing, heating, and air conditioning needs for decades.

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