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What is a Whole-House HEPA Filter & Who Should Invest in One?

Replacing Ac Filter Picture Id185324071
Posted on October 1, 2013
by Appleby Systems

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution ranks among the top five environmental risks to human health. To help minimize pollution and improve indoor air quality, many homeowners turn to indoor air cleaners such as whole-house high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

Today’s buildings with improvements in windows and doors air tightness are designed to minimize air leakage, which in turn provides a fertile condition for respiratory problems. They drastically reduce the risk of recurring health problems.

What is a HEPA Filter?

HEPA’s are a by-pass filter, which must be used with either a media filter or an electronic air cleaner.

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance, and these systems are filtration standards created by the US Atomic Energy Commission. To be called a HEPA a filter must remove 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns.

The HEPA is attached to the return air drop on the furnace by two pipes. One pipe carries the unfiltered air to the HEPA and the second pipe carries the cleaned air back to the return air duct. Depending upon the size of the house and the model and size of the HEPA all the air in the house will pass through the HEPA up to 67 times in a 24-hour period.

How a Whole-House HEPA Filter Works

Constructed of thick pleated sheets of glass fibres, a HEPA filter has a large surface area for its size. This allows the filter to effectively trap many harmful particles when air is forced through it by the home's HVAC system. The particle size removed includes those that are called respirable, which are responsible for respiratory conditions. They can cause bodily irritations, sickness and disease.

By trapping particles, the filter removes potential dangers before the air is circulated through the home. Types of particles HEPA filters can trap include pet dander, many types of mould spores, dust, dust mites, cockroach allergens and pollen.

While a HEPA filter alone is very good at trapping particles, it does not remove odours from the air. This is why filters for residential and commercial use also contain activated carbon in some form. This material absorbs odours and chemicals to keep the air smelling fresh.

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Maintaining a Whole-House Filter

Whole-house HEPA filters are fairly easy to maintain, and the most important maintenance task homeowners can perform is to replace filters regularly. This is critical because when air is forced through a dirty filter, the filter cannot trap particles effectively. Further, some of the trapped pollutants can actually be forced back into the home's air supply. This could put all occupants of the home at risk.

How frequently the filter needs to be changed varies with the type of filter and the situation in the home. For example, people with pets, those who live in damp environments or those who smoke will need to replace filters more often than those who live in homes with fewer sources of indoor air pollution.

In addition to regularly changing filters, homeowners with whole-house HEPA filters should vacuum and dust regularly. Regular cleaning stirs up large particles to allow them to reach the home's HVAC system. This maximizes filtering efficiency. While no filter can remove all particles from the air, using a clean filter and cleaning the house regularly will significantly improve home air quality.

Why Choose a Whole-House HEPA Filter

The installation cost is a small price to pay to keep family members illness free.

According to the EPA, indoor air can be 100 times as polluted as outdoor air, and indoor air pollution can cause or worsen many respiratory ailments including allergies and asthma. A HEPA filter can significantly improve indoor air quality. In turn, this can improve the health of a home's occupants and make the entire house feel and smell cleaner and fresher.

While placing individual filters throughout a home can improve air quality, whole-house filters are more convenient and cost-effective than portable units. With a whole-house filter, there is no need to remember to turn multiple units on and off to keep the air fresh. Also, a whole-house filter requires less energy to operate than multiple small units, and owners of whole-house systems only have to replace one filter rather than multiple filters.

If you have any questions about improving your indoor air quality, stop by our showroom or contact us today.

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