What To Know Before You Invest In A HEPA HVAC Filter

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The function of a HEPA air filter is to remove not just dust and debris from your HVAC system, but also much smaller irritants such as pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. That doesn't mean that installing a HEPA filter will solve all of your problems, however. If you are considering upgrading the air filter in your home's HVAC system, read on. This article will present two complicating factors that you should take into account first.

Restricted Airflow

The least expensive HVAC filters on the market consist merely of thin sheets of fiberglass fabric. These sheets contain relatively large pores—a fact that makes them effective only at removing matter on the larger end of the spectrum. Such particles would otherwise build up inside of the system, eventually causing friction and wear to sensitive internal components.

Standard filters do virtually nothing to remove smaller allergens, which is where the much more densely woven HEPA filters come into play. Unfortunately, in certain cases the density of a HEPA filter can have a negative affect on your system's airflow. The problem here is that if your blower system is not strong enough, it may struggle to push even air through that HEPA filter.

For this reason, it is important to discuss your decision to install a HEPA filter with a professional HVAC contractor. They will determine your duct system's optimal airflow rate. Then they will temporarily install a HEPA filter and measure its effect on the airflow. Depending on the results, they may suggest that you consider other methods of filtration that will have a less deleterious effect on your system's ability to correctly distribute air.

Bypass Leakage

Bypass leakage refers to the phenomenon of air sneaking around the sides of a poorly fitting filter. It is important to note that this can occur with virtually any type of filter should it fail to slot tightly into its housing. Where HEPA filters are concerned, bypass leakage can effectively render the benefits of their higher price tag moot, since allergens will easily be able to sneak past around the edges of the filter.

Thus, before upgrading to a HEPA filter, it is important to have your filter's housing carefully measured by a professional. This will allow you to invest in the best-fitting filter possible. Even air filters that seem to fit correctly may be allowing an unacceptable amount of debris to get past them. This can be diagnosed by inspecting the return air plenum, where dirt and debris that have escaped past a poorly fitted filter tend to build up. 

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