If the quality of the air inside your home is a concern, you may have considered installing air filters into your HVAC system. Your air conditioner and/or forced-air heater uses a filter, but this filter doesn’t do much when it comes to trapping the particulate matter that will lower indoor air quality. For that, you need a dedicated filter or air purifier. And when talking about air filters designed to improve the healthiness of air, the HEPA filter is the one that often comes to mind.
But what exactly is a HEPA filter? And should you have one installed into your home to help with air quality problems? We will address both these questions in this post.
For indoor air quality professionals who will help determine the best type of air filtration or air purification system for your home, look to the team at JW Heating and Air. We offer other indoor air quality solutions as well.
The HEPA filter
H-E-P-A stands for “High Efficiency Particle Arresting.” An HEPA filter is a dense filter made from a mesh of fibers that attract and trap particles in the air flowing through them. The HEPA filter was first designed in the 1940s by the U.S. AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) to remove radioactive contaminants from laboratories—which on its own should tell you how effective these filters are at their jobs. HEPA filters come in different efficiencies, and the most powerful can remove 99.7% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. That’s sufficient to eliminate dust, pollen, dander, and tobacco smoke. The rating of a HEPA filter is measured in MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value; we apologize for all the acronyms), with the higher rating meaning a more efficienct filter.
Great! Let’s install one right away
Hold on, we have to answer the other question: “Is a HEPA filter right for your home?” These filters, even at lower MERV ratings, can be too efficient for a residential HVAC system. A filter this powerful will end up restricting airflow from the heater and air conditioner, placing a heavy burden on the system and drastically lowering energy efficiency. A HEPA filter is appropriate in some situations where special protection is necessary for the health of the people inside. However, they are rarely right for residential HVAC systems.
So what can I do about air quality?
You’re already on the right track by asking questions. There are many indoor air quality installations that can help remove unwanted contaminants from your air, such as electronic air cleaners and UV germicidal lights. Call JW Heating and Air in Los Angeles, CA and we will get you started on finding the best way to improve your indoor air quality without harming your HVAC system.