Do HEPA Filters Function with Your HVAC System?

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your the Wasatch Front region residence, HEPA filters are a effective method to purify the air your household breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the peak standard for air filtration. These filters are often in use in medical centers, as they trap at minimum 99.97% of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. These filters can trap microscopic pollutants from the air including mold, dust and pet dander.

Due to their powerful filtration performance, HEPA filters are dense and might restrict airflow in some home comfort equipment. It’s important to call a heating and cooling Expert like Barlow Service Experts before installing one to prevent damage to your furnace. So, let’s review if you can use HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

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

HEPA filters were primarily made to safeguard scientists against radiation as they worked on the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters have intricate mesh that captures most contaminants. Today, these filters are often seen in medical settings, science labs and even residences.

If you tried to have a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d possibly have problems receiving enough 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 categorized 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. Filters pollen and dust mites.
  • Pleated filters—MERV 8. Traps 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 commonly ranks at MERV 17-20.

In most cases, the largest rating you can safely use in your furnace is MERV 13, but we advise checking with a heating and cooling company like Barlow Service Experts first to avoid damaging your furnace.

HEPA filters in homes are typically used in an independent whole-home air filtration system. This system is secured in your ductwork and filters with your HVAC system.

To increase filtration power, some types of these systems have UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to dependably wipe out some viruses in houses under specific airflow circumstances. And activated carbon filters can eliminate most pungent scents, such as cooking smells or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Residence

There are several different styles that work in partnership with your HVAC system—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 miniscule as .3 micron. These filtration systems typically have a multiple-step filtration process, with a prefilter for larger particles, MERV 17 filter for the leftover particles and carbon filter for odors.

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

Some of these systems are created to work with specific brands, while others are compatible with all brands. Barlow Service Experts can help you decide what will work best in your situation.

Here are a few features to check for when considering a filtration system for your family:

  • Provides hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Captures pollutants, bioaerosols and odors
  • Provides filtration for your whole residence, not just one room
  • Doesn’t produce ozone, which might cause respiratory sensitivity
  • Works with smart thermostats

If you want to enhance the indoor air quality in your residence, the Experts at Barlow Service Experts are here to provide support with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your family’s comfort matters to us, so we’ll work with you to help you find the best solution for your family. Contact us at 801-436-8985 today to schedule your appointment.

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