What Is HEPA Vacuuming? It’s Easy If You Do It Smart

What is HEPA Vacuuming?

HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air. So, what is HEPA vacuuming? It is vacuum cleaning designed to remove 99.9% of all particles that are 0.3 microns in size. HEPA was developed in the 1940s for use in nuclear facilities and today, its standard is set by the US government’s Department of Energy.

While HEPA filters can collect some pollutants, they are unlikely to capture everything. This is because particles smaller than 0.3 microns can escape through the filter. HEPA vacuuming is recommended for minimizing mold spores, dust and other common allergens in homes.

How does HEPA Vacuuming Work?

To understand how HEPA vacuuming works, we first have to understand how vacuum cleaners operate in general. When vacuuming, whether the machine is a bagless or bagged model, it pulls contaminants through the vacuum by generating suction. This is done by use of a rotating brush that helps to loosen particles from upholstery and carpets.

The air that is passed into the bag or collection chamber is then recirculated into the room making it a very crucial part. This is because a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t have a filtration system will blow all the contaminants back into the room.

How it works

While average vacuuming is fine for collecting dander, large dust particles, bits of animal hair and other relatively large contaminants, it is not enough. This is because dust mites and other smaller contaminates get dumped back in the room when using an average vacuum cleaner filter. Therefore, HEPA vacuuming is a better solution because it has a better filter system. It especially comes in handy if you have a serious contaminant problem or have severe dust mite allergies.

Studies have shown that vacuums with HEPA filters perform better as compared to their average counterparts.

What is a HEPA Vacuum?

A HEPA vacuum cleaner which is designed for HEPA performance may either be a bagless or bagged model. Simply put, it is not the bag that makes a vacuum HEPA. Therefore, it is essential you understand that adding a HEPA filter in a standard vacuum or simply using a HEPA-type bag doesn’t mean that you will get true HEPA performance or results.

HEPA vacuums are not only sealed but also have special filters that clean all of the air that goes out of the vacuum. On the other hand, standard vacuums only filter the outgoing air through the vacuum bag.

When does one need a HEPA vacuum?

In commercial environments such as restoration sites or construction where HEPA vacuums are needed, using standard vacuums with HEPA bags or filters may be considered a violation of the EPA rules thus resulting in a substantial fine. There are other specific scenarios where one should use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to provide the most benefit. Here are some of them.

If you suffer from severe allergies

When compared to a non-HEPA vacuum, a HEPA vacuum removes more dust and dust mites as well as other allergens from the air. However, don’t make a HEPA vacuum your only tool against allergens. If you suffer from severe allergies and you want to keep the air clean, it is important that you also use an air purifier together with proper cleaning efforts to remove the allergen sources.

Mold removal

The removal of mold in a contaminated house can be a very daunting task. If the contaminated area is bigger than 10 square feet then the EPA recommends that you consider hiring the services of a contractor specializing in mold remediation. Since mold gives off toxic enzymes and spores, inhaling it can be quite dangerous.  Therefore, using a HEPA vacuum to remove the mold is one part of the process.

Cleaning repair materials that might be or is asbestos

When you’re repairing, renovating or replacing any materials that might be or is asbestos, you will need to use a HEPA filtered vacuum system to clean. 5this is done to prevent the powder or fine particles from escaping into the atmosphere and contaminating it thus creating potential health hazard. More so, this can lead to possible legal ramifications.

Where there biological contamination

Since HEPA vacuums are very good at keeping in what they pick up, HEPA vacuuming might be the best for you to clean up after an infestation of birds, vermin or any other creature that leaves behind residue. HEPA vacuums and filters are also standard for cleaning up after any type of mildew, fungus and mold.

Cleaning nuclear power

HEPA vacuuming is also ideal for cleaning any place with radioactive material whether it is at a medical facility, laboratory or nuclear plant.

Lead dust removal

Living in an older home that was built before 1978 and has led paint means that you have lead dust and lead paint chips. Studies suggest that exposure to lead can cause learning disabilities, brain damage and other health issues especially in young children.  While lead particles can be too small for a HEPA filter, a HEPA vacuum cleaner on the other hand can help remove the lead dust. The density of lead particles means that HEPA filters can have a hard time trapping them thus why HEPA vacuum is required.

How to Buy a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner

True HEPA vacuums are not only widely available but are also not necessarily more expensive than standard vacuums. With little research, you can easily buy a HEPA vacuum just like your ordinary home appliances. After confirming that your vacuum is true HEPA, you can now make your selection based on your preference including brand, convenient features, type, performance, price and reputation among others.

Is it Worth Getting a Vacuum Cleaner With a HEPA Filter?

Evidence has shown that when it comes to collecting contaminants, HEPA vacuum with a properly designed seal is capable of doing a better job than an average vacuum cleaner. So, if you are wondering what is the best vacuum cleaner for allergy suffers the answer is right here. HEPA vacuum cleaners are particularly helpful for allergy sufferers since they trap pet dander, dust mites and dust better than average vacuum cleaners.

Getting a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is worth it because it can be a very healthy tool for reducing allergens plus some remediation of harmful contaminants.

Type of HEPA Filters

Absolute or true HEPA filters

To be considered true HEPA, absolute or true HEPA filters have to be tested to see if they meet the specified standard. True HEPA filters have not only been proven to trap at least 99.9% of all particles that are 0.3 microns in size but also have a serial number assigned to them. The test results should be printed on the filter. Absolute or true HEPA filters tend to be more costly when compared to other HEPA filters. However, they must perform at a specified standard to attain the distinction of absolute or true HEPA.

Other HEPA-type filters

These type of filters may not only be made in a similar way as absolute or true HEPA filters but may also resemble them. However, HEPA-type filters don’t have to meet the same standards as absolute or true HEPA filters. A plethora of filters sold as HEPA may only capture between 80% and 90% of all particles. This percentage can fall even lower to particles that are below the size of 1 micron. In addition, these types of filters don’t have a serial number.

How to tell the difference

If you want to tell the difference then look for the test results and the serial number which are usually printed on absolute or true HEPA filters. Ensure that the test results is of 0.3 microns with 99.97% or above. Since most filters work better with both larger and smaller particles, the 0.3 micron size is the testing standard. Keep in mind that most household allergens are either microns or larger.

Can one wash or clean HEPA filters

True HEPA filters are nearest thing to air pollution solution. This statement is backed by a myriad of scientific tests. In addition, HEPA filters use about as much energy as lightbulbs, they are cheap and even have documented health benefits.

The only remaining issue is that you have to throw out HEPA filters after every few months. Based on research washing the filters highly reduced their performance and cleaning it is impossible. Therefore, you are recommended to buy a new HEPA filter when the one you’re using is no longer as effective.

How to Choose a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner

The size of your home is the first thing you consider before buying a HEPA vacuum cleaner. While there is a mid-sized vacuum cleaner which effectively handles the needs of most people, consider getting a full sized canister vacuum cleaner if you have a bigger house. Ideally, a student living in a dorm or someone living in a studio apartment only needs a smaller sized vacuum cleaner that can get the job done.

What type of flooring do you have in your home?

If you suffer from severe allergies or asthma, we would like to hope that you have limited the use of carpeting but chances are that you still have some substantial carpeting.  If that is the case then you should consider investing in a HEPA vacuum cleaner. If you have a mixture of wooden floors and carpeting then a canister vacuum which is HEPA sealed is ideal since no allergens will be able to escape.

HEPA upright vacuum vs HEPA canister vacuum cleaners

Some people prefer upright vacuum cleaners over canister vacuum cleansers and vice versa. The reality of the matter is that both types can be made to work well for you. Since it’s highly likely that you are yet to compare the two, try both of them out and figure out which one suits you bets, you might be surprised at the different innovations available out there.

Pros and cons of upright vacuum cleaners

While upright vacuum cleaners are more compact and easy to store in a closet, most are quite heavy to move around. Upright vacuum cleaners come at a lower price when compared to canister vacuum cleaners and also often provide more suction. However, most are not designed for easy and efficient use on-board tools. In additions, most don’t have a post-motor or a fully sealed HEPA system.

Pros and cons of canister vacuum cleaners

The biggest advantages of canister vacuum cleaners are: they are lighter to push and they are easy to transition from carpets to bare floors. The downside to these is that they are less convenient to store when compared to their counterparts. In addition, the effectiveness and power of basic carpet vacuuming tends to be less if you don’t have a full size canister.

Features to Lookout for Before Buying a HEPA Filter Vacuum Cleaner

To ensure that the exhaust of your vacuum cleaner is emitting allergen free air, the HEPA filter needs to be positioned post motor. The bad news is that this post motor feature is only available in canister vacuum cleaners.

Other features include:

Fully sealed HEPA system

Both the motor and bag need to be fully sealed by rubber gaskets tin order to avoid the leakage of dust-filled air. Allergens and dust need to kept where they belong which is in the machine.

On-board tool caddy

As mentioned earlier, these are essential tools that your vacuum cleaner should have. Good on-board tools depend on how easy they can be change in one go. A vacuum cleaner with a good on-board caddy should allow you to change from dusting or vacuuming upholstery to floor tools with just one quick and simple pull and unscrew motion.

Two-fan suction motor

Having a two-fan motor vacuum cleaner is advantageous because it can significantly pull in more allergens and dirt than a single-fan motor. The power of a vacuum machine is usually measured in air flow in regards to cubic feet per minute.

Adjustable telescopic wand for canister vacuum cleaners

This feature is vital in helping you to be able to seamlessly adjust the optimal distance in reaching floors, furniture and high places. Your machine’s telescopic wand is supposed to be easily adjustable without having to fiddle with it.

On and off rotating brush for upright vacuum cleaners

This gives your machine the ability to switch from bare floor to carpet at the touch of a button.

On-board hose storage for upright vacuum cleaners

Since storing on-board tools tend to be awkward especially in upright vacuums you need to get one that has this feature.

Rotating power nozzle for canister vacuum cleaners

These are usually better for cleaning carpets

On and off switch with easy to use controls

Ensure that you get a HEPA vacuum cleaner whose controls are easy to use

Dust bag change indicator

Since vacuum cleaners don’t work effectively with an overfull bag and stand the risk of burning out, it is essential that you get one that has a dust bag change indicator

Long flexibility hose

Ensure that the hose of your vacuum cleaning machine cans easily twist and kink without getting damaged.

Low noise level

If you like vacuuming when the kids have gone to bed or late at night then the noise level of your machine becomes a crucial feature. You will be surprised to find that there are HEPA vacuum cleaners that are extremely quiet.

Aside from all these features ensure that the vacuuming machine you choose has a manufacturer’s warranty.  You should be able to get a 5 year warranty on the motor and a year on the other parts. For those who don’t like to manually vacuum, there are a number of HEPA robot vacuums that will automatically do the job for you.

Air purifier vs vacuum cleaner

While vacuum cleaners have a portable shape and can be easily moved anywhere, air purifiers come in either heavy or bearable size. Vacuum cleaners are used for cleaning dust and other contaminants particles in a room thus portability is key. They also have dust filters with a dust chamber that can clean without changing the inner filter.

On the other hand, air purifiers don’t have dust chambers to reserve air dust as their sole purpose is to simply purify the air thus making our breath fresh and healthy. However, unlike vacuum cleaners, they don’t need additional equipment to increase workability.

How are HEPA Vacuum Cleaners a Useful Tool for persons suffering with Asthma and Allergies

The most airborne particles 2.4 microns in size while an average vacuum cleaner only vacuums particles between the sizes of 30 and 50 microns. It then lows the rest of the allergens back in to the air you breathe. However, particles that are 0.3 microns in size tend to be the most harmful. While a HEPA air cleaner will only do part of the job required for someone suffering with severe allergies or asthma in keeping their environment clean, you still need a HEPA vacuum cleaner.

This is because while an air cleaner draws those airborne allergens to its filters, a vacuum cleaner will clean those that are settled on the furniture, carpet and floor.

Applications for HEPA Filters

HEPA filters are used in a wide range of applications ranging from applications for industrial vacuum cleaners for mold, lead and asbestos removal to getting rid of toner dust on office equipment. Each application is unique regardless of how simple it may be.

Industrial use of HEPA filters are crustal in the prevention of the spread of viral and bacterial organisms that are airborne.  For instance, they can be used surgical operation rooms as well as other critical medical air filtration applications.

Some of the other applications include:

  • Industrial vacuum cleaners
  • Negative pressure isolation rooms
  • Surgical smoke evacuation
  • Biological safety cabinets
  • Surgical respirator systems
  • Microderm abrasion
  • And much more.

HEPA Vacuuming on Carpets

While you may never be able to remove every single spore from a carpet, research shows that HEPA vacuuming significantly reduces the amount of microscopic particles found on carpets. Vacuuming at least once every week will greatly improve the quality of air in your home. Even if you don’t have mold, HEPA vacuuming is still essential because it helps to remove dust and other allergens. It will also reduce the chances of mold from starting to grow in your home.

HEPA Vacuuming for Mold Removal and Remediation

HEPA vacuuming is a vital part of mold removal and remediation. In fact, mold removal professionals use powerful HEPA vacuums to remove stubborn mold. In the event that you have to remove mold in your home by yourself, ensure that you use a HEPA vacuum cleaner. It is recommended that you start the mold removal process through HEPA vacuuming the room. This is because this action will remove mold spores from the surrounding area.

Use a mold killing product such as bleach or vinegar to clean away the mold before HEPA vacuuming again once the surface is fully dry.

Benefits of HEPA Vacuums

HEPA vacuums have numerous benefits aside from making the air cleaner. Here are some of them

  • They are easy to set up and use
  • They are ideal for both smaller and larger particles such as cement dust
  • They can be used for hazardous, wet and dry applications
  • They can be used to remove hazardous lead and asbestos particles

Benefits of HEPA Filters

  • They help prevent flare ups of asthma and allergies through the elimination of pollen, mold, bacteria smoke and dust in the air.
  • They help to improve indoor air quality through preventing the emission of impurities and contaminants back into the air thus guaranteeing safer and cleaner air at the office or at home.
  • They help to instil peace of mind through the eradication of allergens and impurities in your office or home air thus making you feel more secure and comfortable without experiencing any breathing problems.

Get one today!

If you want to live a stress-free life without worrying about the air around you being impure and full of allergens, buy a HEPA vacuum today and enjoy all its benefits.

My name is Isabel and welcome to Blooming Air I created Blooming Air to be a place where homeowners can keep their homes healthy for them and their families with high-quality air units.