Can You Add HEPA Filters in Your HVAC System? 

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

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

As a result of their powerful filtration capabilities, HEPA filters are deep and can restrict airflow in some home comfort equipment. It’s important to talk to a heating and cooling professional like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing prior to installing one to avoid damaging your furnace. So, let’s review whether or not you can install HEPA filters in your HVAC system. 

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

HEPA furnace filters were initially made to protect scientists from radiation as they developed the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters are made from fine mesh that traps the majority of contaminants. Today, these filters are frequently installed in medical facilities, science labs and even homes. 

If you tried to have a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d possibly have trouble getting ample air from your vents. This is due to the fact your furnace’s blower motor isn’t made to work with such a thick 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 efficient the filter is at capturing small particles. 

Here’s how common household filters rank: 

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

Higher ratings, ranging from MERV 14-20, are used in commercial and medical settings. A HEPA filter commonly ranks at MERV 17-20. 

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

HEPA filters in homes are commonly installed in an independent whole-home air filtration system. This system is installed in your ductwork and works alongside your HVAC system. 

To improve filtration power, some models of these systems have UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to dependably wipe out select viruses in houses under particular airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can get rid of many pungent odors, like cooking scents or tobacco smoke. 

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Residence 

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

A HEPA filtration system is most effective, with 99.97% efficiency for particles as minuscule as .3 micron. These filtration systems typically have a multistep filtration process, with a prefilter for large particles, MERV 17 filter for the residual pollutants 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 is only the filter and can offer 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 figure out what will give you the best results for your home. 

Here are a couple of things to check for when buying a filtration system for your family: 

  • Delivers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up) 
  • Filters contaminants, bioaerosols and scents 
  • Provides filtration for your whole residence, not only a lone room 
  • Doesn’t produce ozone, which may cause respiratory irritation 
  • Compatible with smart thermostats 

If you want to boost the indoor air quality in your house, 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 is our top priority, so we’ll work with you to help you choose the best solution for your needs. Contact us at 866-397-3787 today to schedule your appointment. 

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