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Do I Need a HEPA Vacuum for My Home

Vacuuming around your home is an essential part of keeping things clean. The machine removes the dirt and dust from floors, carpets, rugs, and upholstery on the furniture. When the vacuum operates, it expels air out of the rear of the machine, and that air contains some of the dust the vacuum picks up during your cleaning session.

As a result, you end up spreading dust into the air, and that’s an issue for people with allergies. If you have allergies, you might want to consider purchasing a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Mold, lead dust, and particulate matter can sit suspended in the air for hours. Breathing that particulate matter causes the onset of allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

While a HEPA vacuum cleaner does make a huge difference in the air quality the vacuum cleaner releases back it the room, it’s not a 100% answer to the problem. Some HEPA filters may fit poorly to the machine, resulting in the escape of particulate matter. Some particulate matter is also too fine for the filter to remove.

Let’s unpack everything you need to know about HEPA vacuum cleaners and if you should invest in one for your home.

What Does HEPA Mean?

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter. These filters come with a design and construction that removes up to 99.97% of particulate matter from the air passing through the filter. The filter removes particles down to 0.3-microns in size, and that includes many airborne contaminants.

The HEPA filter is the gold standard of air filtration, created in the 1940s by scientists working on the Manhattan project. The goal of the HEPA filter was to collect nuclear emissions produced when working on the first atomic weapons during the research and development phase of the program.

While HEPA filters are effective at cleaning the air, they can’t remove all particulate matter. The best HEPA filters only remove 99.97% of air pollutants, and all particles below 0.3-microns in size can escape the system. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), bacteria, and viruses can escape the HEPA filter,

How Does a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner Work?

To get an understanding of the HEPA filter and its operation, we need to look at the operating principles of the vacuum cleaner. Whether it’s a bagless or bagged model, the machine generates suction that pulls dirt and debris into the vacuum where the air passes through a bag or chamber that collects the particulate matter.

After disposing of the dust and dirt in the chamber or bag, the vacuum cleaner expels the clean air back into the room. Recirculating the air is a critical part of the vacuum design, and without the chamber collecting the dust, the debris would just blow back out into the room.

Some cheap models are inefficient and collecting debris, so it’s important to purchase a top-quality machine, especially if you suffer from allergies. Typically, spending more on a vacuum cleaner gets you a device with a longer service life than cheaper models.

The average vacuum cleaner is suitable for most homeowners. However, if you have allergies, the filter on the machine isn’t going to remove enough particulate matter, and you might find yourself developing an allergy attack while vacuuming.

Dust mites and dust particles are very small, and the average vacuum filter doesn’t effectively remove all of them. As a result, they float around in the room while you breathe them in, causing an allergic reaction.

The issue with vacuum cleaner design and construction is that many vacuums don’t seal correctly around the filter. As a result, air moves around the sides of the filter instead of passing through it. You’ll need to ensure you’re purchasing a model with a sealed bag and motor to prevent dust from returning to the air in the room.

Vacuum ULPA Filtration Systems

Vacuum cleaners come with different filter specifications. The ULPA (Ultra Low Penetration Air) grading is the highest rating for any vacuum filter.

These machines remove particles down to 0.12-microns in size, commonly used in pharmaceutical applications.

However, these vacuum cleaners cost thousands of dollars, and it’s not a practical choice for the average homeowner.

HEPA Vacuums for Controlling Allergens

If you have severe allergies, then the best option for a new machine is to go for a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

HEPA filters remove more dust, dust mites, dirt, dander, and pollutants than the average air filter on a standard vacuum cleaner.

Combining a HEPA vacuum cleaner with an air purifier is a great way to ensure that you remove as much particulate matter and contaminants from the air as possible.

HEPA Vacuums for Controlling Lead Dust

Older homes built before 1978 in the United States typically have interior paint jobs featuring lead paint. Lead paints are harmful to your health, and the paint slowly erodes over time, contaminating surfaces and the air around your home.

As a result, the home may experience contamination with lead dust. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data, exposure to lead dust causes organ, nerve, and brain damage. It’s also responsible for generating the onset of learning disabilities in children exposed to the dust.

A HEPA filter can remove most of the lead dust from your home, but you can bet that some of it will remain. As a result, it’s a good idea to combine the vacuum cleaner with an air-purifying system. Run the cleaner while you’re vacuuming to remove as much particulate matter from the air as possible.

HEPA Vacuum Cleaners and Mold

During the early spring and summer, mold becomes active in the garden. This naturally occurring pathogen occurs in the lawn, under leaf piles, and in soil. When the weather warms up, the mold releases spores into the air, and these spores can find their way into your home.

The air kicks up the mold spores, and they float readily through open doors and windows. If the spores find a dark, warm, and damp place, they’ll start reproducing. People with allergies will notice they experience an increase in the frequency and intensity of their allergic reactions when mold spores are present in the air.

Some molds can have a toxic effect on the body. Species like black mold release mycotoxins, causing interaction with the respiratory and nervous systems. These interactions lead to breathing problems and possible damage to the nervous system from overexposure to the pathogen.

You’ll assume mold is present in your home if the air develops a musty smell. If you suspect mold is in your home, call a mold inspection service like MI&T. MI&T will visit your premises and inspect it using the latest in air-quality detection technology. They’ll pinpoint the exact location of the mold and give you the advice you need to remove it from your home.

However, MI&T can’t remove the mold for you, and they don’t recommend any partner firms for the removal. As a result, you get an unbiased and impartial review of the air quality in your home.

If there is mold in your home, you’re going to have to remove it and remediate the air. Running a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter won’t resolve the problem.

Is It Worth Getting a Vacuum Cleaner with a HEPA Filter?

There is plenty of evidence showing that using a HEPA vacuum with proper seals on the filter and motor effectively removes particulate matter while stopping the machine from returning it to the air. It’s an upgrade to a conventional vacuum cleaner, but you’re going to pay a steep price for the device.

You’ll also need to change out the filter every few months. Avoid models with washable filters. The washing process thins them out, causing lower levels of efficacy when operating the vacuum. However, a HEPA vacuum is a way better choice for homeowners with allergies than a conventional model.

The HEPA vacuum will help you reduce your allergy response during the summer and fall when dust and pollen are more active in the air. Pollen also wanders into your home, causing an increase in allergy responses in sensitive individuals.

Pollen also has a sticky surface, and it collects on the carpet, upholstery, and your clothing. Keeping the windows to your home closed and running an HVAC or air-con system is the best way to stop pollen from invading your home.

However, if it does get into the house, using a HEPA vacuum can help you remove as much of it as possible. It’s critical that you don’t vacuum homes where asbestos is present in the air.

Asbestos is another old building material used up until the 70s. Asbestos particles can get into the air and your lungs, where they cause severe damage. If your home has asbestos, consider renovating to remove the material.

Overall, we have to say that a HEPA vacuum isn’t a necessity for the home. However, if you have allergies, it’s a good choice to reduce the severity of your condition during the summer and fall months.