Can You Install HEPA Filters in Your HVAC System?

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your North America home, HEPA filters are a great approach to freshen the air your household breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the peak standard for air filtration. These filters are frequently used in medical settings, as they filter at least 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.

Because of their powerful filtration capabilities, HEPA filters are dense and can reduce airflow in some home comfort units. It’s crucial to call a heating and cooling professional like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning prior to installing one to prevent damage to your furnace. So, let’s discuss if you can use HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

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

HEPA filters were initially produced to safeguard scientists against radiation as they developed the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters are made from very thin mesh that captures many contaminants. Now, these filters are typically installed in medical facilities, science labs and even houses.

If you attempted to install a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d probably have issues having enough air from your vents. This is because your furnace’s blower motor isn’t designed to work with such a deep filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Handle?

Filters are categorized by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the number, the better the filter is at trapping microscopic particles.

Here’s how typical household filters stack up:

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

Higher ratings, such as MERV 14-20, are used in commercial and medical centers. A HEPA filter commonly ranks at MERV 17-20.

Generally, the highest rating you can safely use in your furnace is MERV 13, but we advise asking a heating and cooling company like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning beforehand to prevent damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in homes are commonly part of a stand-alone whole-home air filtration system. This unit is installed inside your ductwork and filters with your HVAC system.

To boost filtration power, some models of these systems have UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably destroy select viruses in homes under certain airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can eliminate the majority of pungent smells, like cooking scents or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home

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

A HEPA filtration system provides the greatest effectiveness, with 99.97% efficiency for pollutants down to .3 micron. These filtration systems sometimes have a multistep filtration process, with a prefilter for large particles, MERV 17 filter for the leftover contaminants and carbon filter for smells.

Air purification systems are often the total package, with a hospital-grade MERV 16 filter, germicidal lights and carbon filters. A media air cleaner includes the filter and might come with carbon filtration options.

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

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

  • Provides hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Traps pollutants, bioaerosols and odors
  • Gives filtration for your complete house, not only a lone space
  • Doesn’t make ozone, which might create respiratory inflammation
  • Compatible with smart thermostats

If you want to improve the indoor air quality in your home, the Experts at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning are here to assist you with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your family’s comfort is our top priority, so we’ll work together to help you find the best solution for your needs. Contact us at 866-397-3787 now to request your appointment.

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