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Home HEPA Filter: Do You Need One and Are They Worth It?

For residential air filtration, are home HEPA filters the best option? Our guide covers what HEPA is and if it's the best air filter upgrade.

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You might be wondering if you need a home HEPA filter, Well, did you know that more than 50 million people across the United States suffer from at least one type of allergy? It’s actually the sixth leading chronic illness in the country. When it comes to a dust mite allergy specifically, roughly 20 million Americans suffer. This is why your home’s air quality – where you live, work, and sleep – is so important.

In addition to allergies, indoor air quality can affect your quality of life. One of the easiest ways to ensure better, cleaner and healthier air in your home is through filtration. There are lots of options to choose from, including MERV rated filters and HEPA. So when it comes to purchasing a home filter, is HEPA a good choice? You might be wondering, what exactly it is, and if it’s really worth the investment. We’re here to demystify all of it for you. 

What Is a HEPA Filter?

HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. They capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. These filters are capable of capturing many air pollutants, including mold spores, bacteria and virus particles.

How Do HEPA Filters Work?

To understand effective HEPA filters are at keeping homes safe, you need to understand how they are designed. HEPA filters are pleated, increasing the surface area of the filter. The layers of a HEPA filter have a mesh of fibers tangled together to create a thick web. Air flows through these pleated layers of tangled fibers. Capturing particulates and indoor pollutants–trapping the contaminants inside their fibers is easier.

There are a couple different ways that particles are captured. The four ways include sieving, interception, diffusion and direct impaction.

Sieving occurs when the spaces in between the fibers are too small for particulates to fit in between. Interception occurs when particles run into the fibers in a HEPA filter and stay attached to the fibers. Diffusion occurs when small particles attempt to travel through the filter, but captured by the fibers. Direct impaction occurs when large particles travel directly into the filter, colliding with the fibers, where they’re trapped.

HEPA filters are effective partly because there are multiple filtration methods actively reducing the number of pollutants from circulating back into the air. 

To keep your family continuously safe, it’s important that you stay on top of maintaining the home HEPA filter. If you don’t replace HEPA filters on a regular schedule, the contaminants that are caught inside can build up and block or reduce airflow, thus straining the HVAC system. The filter also becomes less effective as contaminants build up, posing an added threat to the air quality inside your home.

Does Your Home Need a HEPA Filter?

HEPA filtration is a big upgrade from common residential filters. We certainly recommend looking into upgrading the air filters in your home or building, but whether a HEPA filter is necessary can depend on the specific situation. If someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, investing in a home HEPA filter will help reduce and eliminate particles in the air that are causing or potentially worsening the symptoms. Respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing, sore throat, watery eyes and sneezing are common allergies caused by a home’s poor air quality. Installing HEPA filters in the home can immediately reduce the number of airborne particulates that are responsible for triggering these allergy-related symptoms. If there aren’t prevalent health concerns then air filters don’t necessarily need to be HEPA-level, rather making any type of upgrade will be beneficial for quality purposes. 

Are HEPA Filters Worth the Investment?

Short answer: yes, we think they can be worth the investment. Even when doing a good job of cleaning your home, there are still so many ways for airborne particles to enter the space and build up over time. Even through just the simple daily tasks of living.

One important note–for many home HVAC systems, the investment doesn’t stop at simply buying the HEPA filter and installing it. And this is where the answer gets tricky. More likely, residential HVAC systems and the home will have to be retrofitted with new ducts and new equipment, maybe even an upgraded HVAC system that is powerful enough to work with and blow through a dense HEPA air filter.

The best alternative to this expensive upgrade is to opt for MERV-13 filters instead. MERV-13 air filters are generally the best filter upgrade for residential use for typical HVAC systems. It’s worth having an indoor air quality expert evaluate the best plan for your specific situation.

Do HEPA Filters Make a Difference in Your Home?

Good filtration provides a noticeable and significant difference in your home’s indoor air quality. HEPA filters in particular are great at effectively reducing particulate matter like dust mites, pet dander, pollen and mold spores. If you are concerned about these types of particles in your home, upgrading the air filters will help keep your family protected. Investing in HEPA filtration (or choosing to upgrade filters at all!) for your home will contribute to better indoor air quality for yourself and your loved ones. 

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Indoor air quality matters. Indoor air quality control solutions work. That’s why we are IAQ.Works. We are the homeowner’s advocate. Our goal is to help you create a healthier indoor space through education, awareness and action. We support clean air for all and we know it’s possible for every single indoor space. Join us on Twitter!

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