Can You Add HEPA Filters in Your HVAC System? 

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your the U.S. residence, HEPA filters are a simple approach to freshen the air your loved ones breathe. 

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

Because of their powerful filtration performance, HEPA filters are thick and can restrict airflow in some home comfort equipment. It’s critical to call a heating and cooling Expert like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing in advance of installing one to prevent damage to your furnace. So, let’s discuss if you can install HEPA filters in your HVAC system. 

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

HEPA furnace filters were initially designed to safeguard scientists against radiation as they created the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters use very thin mesh that traps the majority of substances. Now, these filters are typically used in medical settings, science labs and even homes. 

If you tried to install a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d potentially have trouble having adequate air from your vents. This is since your furnace’s blower motor isn’t engineered to work with such a deep filter. 

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Use? 

Filters are categorized by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the number, the more efficient the filter is at trapping small substances. 

Here’s how typical household filters stack up: 

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

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

In most cases, the biggest rating you can safely use in your furnace is MERV 13, but we advise consulting with a heating and cooling company like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing beforehand to avoid damaging your furnace. 

HEPA filters in residential settings are commonly installed in a stand-alone whole-home air filtration system. This unit is secured within your ductwork and purifies with your HVAC system. 

To improve filtration power, these systems sometimes have UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably eliminate select viruses in houses under certain airflow circumstances. And activated carbon filters can eliminate the majority of strong smells, including cooking scents or tobacco smoke. 

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Residence 

There are a couple of different solutions that work with your HVAC system—HEPA filtration systems, air filtration systems and media air cleaners. 

A HEPA filtration system is most effective, with 99.97% efficiency for pollutants down to .3 micron. These filtration systems typically have a multiple-step filtration process, with a prefilter for large particles, MERV 17 filter for the leftover pollutants and carbon filter for smells. 

Air purification systems are typically 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 come with carbon filtration add-ons. 

Some of these systems are designed to work with certain brands, while others can be used with all brands. Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help you determine what will give you the best results for your home. 

Here are a couple of things to be on the lookout for when buying a filtration system for your house: 

  • Offers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up) 
  • Removes particles, bioaerosols and smells 
  • Delivers filtration for your whole home, not just a single room 
  • Doesn’t make ozone, which may create respiratory inflammation 
  • Works with smart thermostats 

If you want to enhance the indoor air quality in your home, the Experts at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing are here to assist you 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 discover the ideal solution for your family. Contact us at 866-397-3787 now to request your appointment. 

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