Do HEPA Filters Make a Difference in Your Home?

Using a HEPA filter in your home can help reduce the amount of allergens and airborne pollutants that can worsen allergies. But it's important to remember that these filters are not the only way to keep your home clean. To keep your family safe, it's important to keep control of your household HEPA filter and regularly inspect, clean, or replace it. Yes, HEPA filters can be used in both vacuum cleaners and air purifiers to reduce the amount of allergens and airborne pollutants in a home.

Air and HVAC filters are designed to filter out contaminants from the air passing through them. However, they have not been tested or certified to meet the DOE standards for HEPA filters. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) air filters are indoor air filters that can be assembled from box fans and square HVAC (or oven) filters. As air moves through the filter, contaminants and particles are captured, and clean air is expelled into the living space.

Because dense HEPA filters trap most of the particles in the air, they tend to clog more quickly than traditional filters. If you have a central HVAC system, consult a reputable contractor about replacing the manufacturer's filter with an approved oven filter (the right size for your unit and the size of your air ducts) with a minimum efficiency rating (MERV) value of 11 or 12, and then configure the fan to work continuously. MERV-13 air filters are generally the best filter upgrade for residential use for typical HVAC systems. Normally, this would be too small for a HEPA filter to catch, since the filter traps particles as small as 0.3 microns in size.

HEPA filters are effective in part because there are multiple filtration methods that actively reduce the amount of contaminants circulating back into the air. A whole-house HEPA air purifier connects to the main trunk of a home's HVAC intake duct and filters out harmful contaminants every time the oven or air conditioner is operating. Residential and home HVAC systems will most likely need to be modernized with new ducts and new equipment, perhaps even an improved HVAC system that is powerful enough to work with and blow through a dense HEPA air filter. Today, HEPA filters are considered to be the best filters for removing airborne particles, such as mold spores, dust, dander, and pollen. Clogged filters will reduce machine efficiency, so they should be inspected regularly once a month, cleaned (as described above), or replaced with new filters.