Can You Use HEPA Filters with Your HVAC System? 

If you’re worried about the indoor air quality in your the U.S. residence, HEPA filters are a powerful method to purify the air your household breathes. 

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the peak standard for air filtration. These filters are frequently installed in medical settings, as they remove at baseline 99.97% of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. These filters can remove microscopic substances from the air like mold, dust and pet dander. 

Due to their powerful filtration performance, HEPA filters are thick and might reduce airflow in some home comfort units. It’s critical to call a heating and cooling Expert like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing prior to installing one to avoid damage to your furnace. So, let’s go over whether you can use HEPA filters in your HVAC system. 

What Is a HEPA Filter and How Does It Purify Air? 

HEPA furnace filters were initially produced to protect scientists from radiation as they worked on the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters are made from fine mesh that catches most pollutants. Now, these filters are frequently used in medical centers, science labs and even homes. 

If you made an attempt to have a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d potentially have trouble having enough 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 classified by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The bigger the number, the more efficient the filter is at catching small pollutants. 

Here’s how standard household filters stack up: 

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

Greater ratings, like MERV 14-20, are in use in commercial and medical settings. A HEPA filter typically ranks at MERV 17-20. 

Generally, the largest rating you can safely install in your furnace is MERV 13, but we advise asking a heating and cooling company like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing first to keep clear of damage to your furnace. 

HEPA filters in residential settings are frequently used in an independent whole-home air filtration system. This system is placed inside your ductwork and operates in partnership with your HVAC system. 

To improve filtration power, these systems sometimes come with UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably wipe out some viruses in residences under specific airflow situations. And activated carbon filters can wipe out the majority of pungent scents, like cooking odors or tobacco smoke. 

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home 

There are a few different solutions that function in partnership with your HVAC equipment—HEPA filtration systems, air filtration systems and media air cleaners. 

A HEPA filtration system delivers the highest effectiveness, with 99.97% efficiency for contaminants as small as .3 micron. These filtration systems sometimes have a multiple-step filtration process, with a prefilter for big particles, MERV 17 filter for the leftover particles 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 only the filter and may come with carbon filtration upgrades. 

Some of these systems are created to work with certain brands, while others work with all brands. Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help you decide what will work best for your family. 

Here are a couple of components to check for when considering a filtration system for your family: 

  • Provides hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up) 
  • Removes particles, bioaerosols and smells 
  • Gives filtration for your total residence, not just one space 
  • Doesn’t produce ozone, which may cause respiratory irritation 
  • Works with smart thermostats 

If you’re looking to improve 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 household’s comfort matters to us, so we’ll work together to help you choose the right solution for your needs. Contact us at 866-397-3787 right away to get your appointment. 

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