Can You Use HEPA Filters with Your HVAC System? 

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your the U.S. house, HEPA filters are a easy approach to enhance the air your household breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the peak measure for air filtration. These filters are often in use in medical settings, as they remove at least 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. These filters can remove microscopic substances from the air including mold, dust and pet dander.

As a result of their strong filtration performance, HEPA filters are dense and may lower airflow in some home comfort units. It’s critical to call a heating and cooling professional like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing before installing one to avoid damage to your furnace. So, let’s review whether you can install HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

What Is a HEPA Filter and How Does It Work?

HEPA furnace filters were primarily made to defend scientists against radiation as they created the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters have very thin mesh that captures most contaminants. Now, these filters are typically used in medical centers, science labs and even houses.

If you made an attempt to have a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d more than likely have trouble having ample air from your vents. This is because your furnace’s blower motor isn’t made to work with such a deep filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Handle?

Filters are ranked by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The greater the number, the more effective the filter is at capturing microscopic substances.

Here’s how common household filters rank:

    • Flat filters—MERV 5. Traps pollen and dust mites.
    • Pleated filters—MERV 8. Captures pollen, dust mites and mold.
    • Box filters—MERV 13. Traps pollen, dust mites, mold and certain fumes.

Better ratings, like MERV 14-20, are installed in commercial and medical centers. A HEPA filter commonly ranks at MERV 17-20.

Normally, the largest rating you can safely install in your furnace is MERV 13, but we suggest consulting with a heating and cooling company like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing beforehand to prevent damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in homes are often installed in a separate whole-home air filtration system. This system is placed inside your ductwork and runs alongside your HVAC system.

To boost filtration power, these systems sometimes have UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably eliminate some viruses in homes under particular airflow situations. And activated carbon filters can get rid of many pungent smells, including cooking odors or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Residence

There are a few different styles that operate alongside your HVAC system—HEPA filtration systems, air filtration systems and media air cleaners.

A HEPA filtration system is most effective, with 99.97% efficiency for particles as little as .3 micron. These filtration systems typically have a combined filtration process, with a prefilter for big particles, MERV 17 filter for the residual contaminants and carbon filter for smells.

Air purification systems are typically the full package, with a hospital-grade MERV 16 filter, germicidal lights and carbon filters. A media air cleaner is just the filter and can offer carbon filtration options.

Some of these systems are created to work with certain brands, while others can be used with all brands. Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help you figure out what will provide you the best results for your home.

Here are several features to look for when buying a filtration system for your family:

    • Offers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
    • Captures particles, bioaerosols and smells
    • Delivers filtration for your complete home, not just a single space
    • Doesn’t create ozone, which could create respiratory inflammation

If you’re seeking to boost the indoor air quality in your home, the Experts at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing are here to help with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your family’s comfort matters to us, so we’ll work together to help you find the right solution for your needs. Contact us at 866-397-3787 today to get your appointment.

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