Do HEPA Filters Work with Your HVAC System?

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your Raleigh residence, HEPA filters are a powerful approach to enhance the air your family breathes.

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

On account of their powerful filtration capabilities, HEPA filters are dense and may lower airflow in some home comfort equipment. It’s critical to talk to a heating and cooling pro like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning prior to installing one to prevent damage to your furnace. So, let’s go over whether or not you can add HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

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

HEPA furnace filters were originally made to protect scientists from radiation as they worked on the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters use very thin mesh that catches most substances. Today, these filters are often seen in medical settings, science labs and even homes.

If you attempted to install a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d potentially have problems getting enough air from your vents. This is since your furnace’s blower motor isn’t made to work with such a dense 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 greater the filter is at capturing microscopic pollutants.

Here’s how typical household filters stack up:

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

Higher ratings, like MERV 14-20, are used in commercial and medical settings. A HEPA filter usually 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 first to keep clear of damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in residences are frequently part of an independent whole-home air filtration system. This equipment is installed inside your ductwork and filters in partnership with your HVAC system.

To enhance filtration power, some types of these systems have UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably eliminate certain viruses in residences under specific airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can get rid of most offensive scents, such as cooking odors or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your House

There are a few different styles that function alongside your HVAC unit—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 multiple-step filtration process, with a prefilter for big particles, MERV 17 filter for the residual particles and carbon filter for smells.

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

Some of these systems are designed 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 home.

Here are a few things to check for when considering a filtration system for your house:

  • Offers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Traps contaminants, bioaerosols and scents
  • Delivers filtration for your whole residence, not merely one room
  • Doesn’t create ozone, which may create respiratory irritation
  • Functions with smart thermostats

If you want to increase the indoor air quality in your residence, the Experts at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning are here to help with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your family’s comfort is important to us, so we’ll work together to help you discover the right solution for your home. Contact us at 919-578-4329 now to request your appointment.

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