Many of us suffer from allergies. Some from everyday things like dust and pollen, while others are sensitive to certain foods, fumes, etc. These people have not given up on life but learned to live with their sensitivity. They avoid places, foods, and sometimes even everyday things like perfumes and deodorants to keep their allergies in control.
HEPA air filters are making big waves when it comes to stopping airborne allergens. But is there any truth behind the tall claims, or is it all just propaganda to increase sales? So today, we aim to present you with some core facts that will help you determine whether HEPA air filters can stop allergies and are the solution to your problem.
Facts About Regular Air Filters
Here are some core truths about the regular air filters used in HVAC systems:
1. Regular Air Filters Are Meant To Protect The Equipment – The air filter, a vital part of the HVAC system, is not meant for your protection. In fact, it was made keeping in mind that dust, dirt, and other particulate matter do not enter the heating and cooling system and impact its working. Although nowadays, many companies have started advertising that their primary purpose is to clean the indoor air. That is far from the truth.
The ordinary air filters do trap dust and dirt, but when it comes to trapping microscopic materials, they are sadly lacking and leave much to be desired. In order to trap allergens, special air filters are required.
2. Paper Filters Can’t Trap Allergens – Regular air filters are made of paper. They are only efficient in trapping large particles, but allergens that are very small in size escape easily. They simply pass through the filters, travel the ductwork, and blowback into your indoor space. Therefore, the allergen inside the house continues to be so. As a result, you see no substantive change in your allergy situation.
If you want some relief from the airborne allergens, you will have to opt for an air filter explicitly meant for trapping them. These air filters will have extremely high efficiency in containing microscopic particles.
3. HVAC Systems Are Not ALways Compatible With HEPA Air Filters – All HVAC systems are not compatible with HEPA air filters. Ordinary paper air filters allow for free movement of air to and from the heating and cooling system. Unlike them, HEPA air filters are much denser, which prohibits easy airflow. Instead, the unit has to work harder to pull in the required air. As a result, the efficiency of the system declines, and it is also forced to operate under continuous strain, which can lead to further system complications.
Facts About HEPA Air Filters
Before we begin, a small tidbit of information – HEPA stands for High Energy Particulate Air filters. Let us now see some basic facts about these much-hyped air filters:
1. These Are High-Efficiency Air Filters – HEPA air filters are specifically designed to contain allergens. That is why they are not made of paper. Instead, they are made of tightly packed layers of glass fibers, with each successive layer trapping smaller and smaller particles.
The best kind of HEPA air filters can remove almost 99% of pollen, dust, and other avian contaminants, including but not limited to viruses, bacteria, and mold.
2. Their MERV Rating Differs – Not all HEPA air filters are built to the same standard. They differ as per their MERV rating. MERV is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting System and ranges from MERV 1 to MERV 12. In simple words, MERV is the measure of how well the air filter can trap airborne contaminants of different sizes. So the higher the MERV rating, the better the air filter.
To know the most suitable MERV value of HEPA air filter for your HVAC system, you should contact an HVAC service professional or go through the manufacturer’s manual. Always go for a MERV 10 or higher air filter for allergy purposes. Nonetheless, remember that you should not exceed the MERV rating as suggested by the HVAC manufacturer because that will put a strain on your unit.
3. These Are Expensive – The technology used in HEPA air filters is advanced, and no doubt that makes them more expensive than the standard paper air filters. HEPA air filters, too, need to be switched out every month, so that could be an investment in itself. During the allergy season, when pollen production is at its peak, you may be forced to change the air filter more frequently.
Can HEPA Air Filters Stop Allergies?
Now that we have laid down the bare facts, let us come to the main point of the discussion: “Can HEPA air filters stop allergies?” Stating things bluntly, no, HEPA air filters alone cannot stop allergies. They can drastically reduce the allergens in your living zone but can’t remove them entirely.
So Is The Hype All For Nothing?
No, the hype is not for nothing. Compared to standard air filters, HEPA air filters with a MERV rating of 10 or higher are most efficient in trapping avian particles. But having the right air filter is only half the battle. The other half is all about how well you maintain the HVAC system. It means HEPA air filters work best only with compatible systems that are given regular annual servicing.
If your heating and cooling systems are HEPA compatible, but you have not seen its regular maintenance, it could have years worth of pollen, dust, mold spores, and other allergens sitting on the surfaces inside it.
If you want to stop allergies, HEPA air filters with a MERV rating of at least 10 are a move in the right direction. Nevertheless, alone the filters won’t be able to make much difference. If you wish to get noticeable relief, you will have to choose to become more attentive to the needs of your HVAC system. Regular annual maintenance with HEPA air filters that are changed often can definitely give you a perfect solution for allergies. Additionally, you could also opt to buy an air purifier and care for your HVAC system as well.