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HEPA; you have probably come across this word on your preferred home cleaning products. It’s an acronym that appears on many air purifiers. But what exactly is HEPA and what is its role on the air purifiers? Here, you will learn 15 things about HEPA-filters and why they are important for your home.
15 Things You Should Know About HEPA Filters in Your Home
1. HEPA Meaning
HEPA is an acronym for High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting. In simple terms, when a product is labelled ‘contains HEPA’, it means that the product is designed in a manner that allows it to effectively capture dust and other microparticles.
With HEPA filters, an air purifier is able to trap dust, dander, mould, pollen particles and prevent them from floating inside your house and ultimately providing you with sifted air in your home.
2. How the HEPA Filters Work
As the air inside your home passes through the HEPA-filters, all potentially harmful contaminants are trapped in different ways that include; impaction, diffusion, sieving and interception.
Impaction involves capturing the harmful particles as they move through the filter. Diffusion is a method that bounces the dirt and other contaminants as they move through the filter and instead sticks them on the filter. Sieving gets the contaminant stuck between fibres as it passes through the filter and finally, interception happens when the harmful particles try to make their way through the HEPA filter but are instead hit sticking them to the fibre.
3. HEPA Ratings
Production companies know that the ‘contains HEPA’ is a good marketing tactic if placed on their purifiers, unfortunately, some simply put this indication to mislead and lure customers into buying their product. As a prospective buyer, you are better placed if you understand the meaning of the exact words placed on the air purifier cover.
There are 3 HEPA ratings or terms that you can find on the air purifier: these are;
- True HEPA
- HEPA type
- HEPA like
To a common person, these different terms may not seem like so much of an issue but in reality, there is a big difference between the three descriptions.
- True HEPA
If you want to get the real benefits of HEPA, this is the real term you should be looking for in the ideal air purifier. True HEPA is a label that serves as an indication that the product has met all the quality standards set by the department of energy. These standards require that for cleaning, vacuum or air purifying product to be regarded as true HEPA, then it should be able to tap over 99% of all harmful particles in the air. True HEPA products have the ability to capture particles as small as 03. Microns.
- HEPA type and HEPA like
Like and type are words that many manufacturers are adding on their product labels to confuse the unsuspecting buyer. Many air purifiers labelled that way may not actually get the job done.
HEPA like and HEPA type have no set standards to comply to. If a product is labelled HEPA like or HEPA type, it means that it does not have the ability to trap particles as efficiently as the True HEPA. If you are lucky to get an effective one, a HEPA type or HEPA like air purifier can trap particles of 2-5 microns in size.
4. True HEPA Filters
So, you now know how to look out for the most efficient air purifier with the correct label. Here is something else that you should know. True HEPA filters are of two types. It can either be a mesh HEPA filter or a dense paper filter. The mesh filter is permanent and can be cleaned by washing. On the other hand, the dense paper filter is degradable and must be replaced after wearing out.
Air purifiers that use the mesh HEPA filter are affordable and the best fit for small rooms. The dense paper is a bit pricey but ideal for large rooms and only requires replacement after a couple of months.
5. HEPA Filters Help Beat Asthma and Other Allergies
Being almost 100% effective at capturing all the contaminants in the air, an air purifier with true HEPA helps prevent allergies for people with asthma and other respiratory allergies. The HEPA in the air purifier will help trap dust, mould and all the other particles and trap it inside the filter. The filter also ensures that they have no means or ways of getting back into the air so you continue breathing in clean and fresh air.
6. HEPA Filters Do Not Neutralize Odors
You have probably noted that bad odours do not go away despite using a HEPA air purifier. Here is the reason; HEPA filters are not designed to deal with odours. As already mentioned, the main goal of the HEPA filter is to trap the dangerous particles so that they do not get their way into your lungs or breathing system. For an air purifier that will do both the trapping of harmful particles and neutralizing bad odours, look for a product that has an active carbon filter.
7. They Need Regular Replacements
In order for the HEPA filter to continue taking care of the air you breathe, the filters need to be replaced regularly. This is especially so for HEPA filters that are not reusable. For effective air purification, degradable filters need to be replaced on a regular basis. According to the filter type, replacing may be required after 6 months or after one to two years.
8. The Size of the HEPA Filter
There are two main ways through which you can put your HEPA filter into use. This is either sieving the air in a single room or the entire home. For the entire house, you need a whole house HEPA filter, for small or single rooms like bedrooms or the living room alone, and then you can use a single room HEPA filter which is relatively small in size and affordable. Using a small HEPA filter for a spacious home may not be as effective.
9. They Can Be Breeding Grounds for Pathogens
As already mentioned, the HEPA filters need to be replaced maybe twice per year. One of the reasons is because if not watched closely, these filters can be breeding ground for harmful pathogens like mould. After continuous reproduction, the very same particles you were trying to get rid of can get their way back and before you know it the harmful particles could be well floated in your living room’s air.
10. Might Not Be Effective For Particles Smaller Than 0.3 Microns
According to the energy standards, the standard True HEPA should be able to collect particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. There are many other particles like sickness viruses which are way smaller than the set 0.3 microns. Having your HEPA-filter might not be enough to protect you and your family from inhaling virus contaminated air and thus the need to maintain general cleanliness.
11. The Amount of Time the HEPA Filter Requires To Completely Replace the Air in a Room
When placed for the first time, an air purifier should be run at the highest speed and left for at least 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on the room size. A mid-sized unit requires just about an hour to have the entire air in the room cleaned up. The manufacturers can advise on the air exchange per hour in his product labelling or during purchase.
12. Health Concerns
This is another thing that you should know about the HEPA filter in your air purifier. While some are safe to use at any time, others produce ozone as they run and emit other gases that can cause health issues among the household’s members.
13. The Most Ideal Place for A HEPA Filter
Genuine HEPA filters are expensive to buy and sometimes to maintain. As such, owning two or one big one might be a challenge for the average income earner. If you are wondering where to place your one and only purifier, then the bedroom is the most ideal place to keep the unit.
Ideally, the purifier should neutralize the condition of the room you will be spending more time in. Many people spend 4-6 hours sleeping. For a good sleep, the bedroom is the ideal place to keep the HEPA-filter. It can also be placed on other areas like the living room like when you want your visitors to enjoy a fresh breath of air.
14. It Should Run 24 Hours, 7 Days a Week
As we already mentioned, it takes an average size HEPA filter purifier just about one hour to clean the air in the room, however, 100% efficacy can only be achieved if the machine is left to run all through. Because the room has openings (ventilation, doors and windows) which are necessary for air circulation, the only way to have all the air coming into the room cleansed is by ensuring continuous running of the HEPA-filter unit.
15. The Speed You Run It On Should Match the Room Size
The lower the speed of an air purifier, the longer the time taken to cleanse the air in the room. For small rooms, the speed should be lower and gently increased for spacious rooms. After running for an hour or so, the speed should be adjusted accordingly.
HEPA filters are a great choice if you are concerned about getting rid of 99% of dust, dirt, mould and potentially harmful particles.