By Amiea Eleban
If you are growing your own medicine in an indoor space, then you are intimately familiar with the smell. You know the one. The one that no scented candle can cover, no spray can make disappear, and no matter what you do, it seems to spread and stick to everything, especially in times of high heat and humidity. Fans are nominal help, even with air conditioning.
HEPA filters in the indoor grow world are huge investment opportunities. You may want to think about buying one now if you are growing in a room where a fan is your only way to release the weed smell from even a small operation. If you are pushing the smell outdoors, you will want HEPA help ASAP if you can smell your MMJ grow when you stand outside your window.
There is a growing number of complaints from neighbors who are less than happy with the fan method of de-stinking growing MMJ ops, especially in areas where you have houses that are closer in density, apartments, condos and people who have nothing better to do than whine to the home owners association. If you plan on moving someday, you don’t want your grow room to be the deal breaker for potential buyers.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. It is a filter that forces air through a fine mesh where harmful particles are trapped like magnets to metal. Dust, smoke, pollen, pet hair and dander and even dust mites are trapped. So are smells, which is a huge bonus for the smell of an indoor grow where your entire house can smell like a skunk’s butt (you may not notice, but if you ask others, they may feel differently. Those TV commercials were RIGHT!).
If you have others in the house who have sensitive respiratory systems, a HEPA filter is not only recommended, it is a must. If you or others are experiencing sneezing, wheezing, coughing, have skin rashes, itchy or sore throats and/or noses, an air filter with an additional HEPA filter can be a life saver. Don’t get cheap on this.
Where HEPA filters will get you is in the wallet. There is a reason for that; they are worth the price. Do not get cheap on your filter. If your grow is six feet by five feet in a 10 by 8 foot room, you will need to get a HEPA filter for the room size, NOT the size of the grow within the room, EVEN IF it’s contained within an enclosed grow unit. Once you have committed to a HEPA filter, the difference between a filtration unit for 10×10 room or a 12×12 room is not that much more money in the grand scheme of things. The variation in pricing varies wildly. A small unit for a bedroom can be $60 or a professional unit for someone who is serious about filtration can be $1,400 or more. The cheaper ones sometimes cost more when you need to buy replacement filters where paying a little more up front will save you money in the long haul with washable filters that do not require replacement.
You might want to start with a middle of the road model that costs about $100-$200 and comes with free filters. If you find that you have the grower gift, then later invest in a HEPA that costs more later on.
Things to do to contain your indoor grow smell until you decide on your filtration system:
Vacuum frequently. Wash floors with a floor cleaner that does not leave a residue.
Pull up carpets and rugs. Tile, vinyl, cement, or wood floor is easier to clean.
Keep pets outdoors if possible. If not, keep pets clean and keep pet bedding clean. Do not let pets into your grow operation.
Change your own bedding often. Wash your sheets in hot water. Place plastic covers over mattresses and pillows. Consider covering your soft furniture with plastic when you will not be home.
Wash drapes and curtains. Consider replacing with washable shades.
Replace furnace filters often with HEPA filters every 30 days (or more often if you notice the smell increasing). We spoke with an HVAC guy who says you should buy cheap HVAC filters and replace them every 15-20 days instead of the expensive ones. You can also cut furnace filters to fit in windows, and place over cheap box fans to cut down on smell. If you spray the filters lightly with water, they can help with smell a little until your HEPA filter arrives and can act as a ‘redneck HEPA filter’ in desperate times.