How Long Will HEPA Air Filters Last?

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Breathing the cleanest air possible is important to everyone, especially those who live in smog ridden urban areas. HEPA air filters and purifiers are often used in apartments, houses and offices to circulate and clean the air in these enclosed spaces.

History

  • HEPA filters were originally used during World II in conjunction with the Manhattan Project as a barrier against radioactive contaminants. They were first used commercially in the 1950s. HEPA is the trademark of a brand of filter, as well as a general term for like-use filters. Today they are used in a variety of different places, such as pharmaceutical manufacturers, nuclear fields, nuclear power plants, hospitals, homes, offices, industrial buildings, and home care facilities.

Types

  • HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. A "true" or "pure" HEPA filter features filtration of three or less particles out of 10,000 (or 99.97 percent). There is also a "HEPA-type" or "HEPA-like" filter, which is made similarly and traps only 80 to 90 percent of particles.

Effects

  • Many common health issues, such as asthma and other breathing conditions, are caused or irritated by pollutant particles in your air. Using a HEPA filter on your air purification system, vacuum, and even your central heat/air unit can drastically reduce these irritant air particles, improving your asthma symptoms and generally improving your quality of life.

Drawbacks

  • HEPA filters are unable to be cleaned when dirty or "full" of particles and pollution. They must be changed out in order to start anew. As with any filter system, HEPA filters lose efficiency over time and as the pollutants build up in them. They are very fragile and can be damaged irreparably quite easily, forcing an expensive replacement. They are known to be very loud and can increase the energy usage needed for them to operate properly. In addition, it may be necessary to buy more than one for your apartment or house, as even the larger of the HEPA filters can only clean in a one-room range.

Life Expectancy

  • The life expectancy of a HEPA filter varies greatly, depending on the amount of pollution and particles need to be removed, the number of cycles of air that go through it, and the size of the room it filters. When working with pre-filtered air (indoors, central heat/air units, not open-to-air areas), a HEPA filter can sometimes last as long as the room itself. However, if you have a warranty on the piece of machinery the HEPA filter is in, it may be pertinent to change the filter once or twice a year in order to keep up with the warranty.

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