What Is a HEPA Filter?

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Modern building codes, security standards, and health codes emphasize safety, which is why we have locks on the doors of our homes, vents over the oven, and handrails in public restrooms. Without modern advancements in technology and government regulations in manufacturing and construction, there could be a health or safety risk in any area of your home or a public building—even in the air you breathe. As it turns out, the air inside of a building could be more polluted than the outside air. Thankfully, air conditioning and heating manufacturers and installers are required to use filters in forced air HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, and one of the most advanced of these is the HEPA filter. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters were actually designed to eliminate radioactive contaminants from the air after the invention of the atomic bomb, and that’s how you can tell that these systems are effective. In fact, HEPA filters eliminate over 99% of the contaminants that pass into it (down to 0.3 micrometers in size), which is far more than the average home filter. This is partly due to the design of the filter; it’s folded into pleats to create a larger surface area, so that small particles are more likely to become trapped in the fibers as the indoor fan sucks them in. Most of the filters installed in a home heating and air conditioning system have a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) of about 1 to 6, which means that they can only filter out about 75-90% of the particles that pass through, no less than 3 to 10 micrometers in diameter. That means your home filter may eliminate dust mites, pollen, and dusting aids, but not all mold spores, which would require a MERV 8 filter. HEPA filters, however, are generally not effective for use in homes unless they are built into separate electronic air cleaners. This is because a HEPA filter can actually interfere with airflow to the air conditioning or heating unit. The unit needs a certain amount of air to come in in order to work properly, and a HEPA filter is simply too powerful and can block some air from entering. HEPA filters are more common in hospitals, laboratories, and even airplanes, although you may be able to get the power of a HEPA filter with a home air purifier. Speak with the indoor air quality experts at Air Mechanical, Inc. to learn more about air cleaners in Ham Lake. Contact us today!

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