Are HEPA Filters Compatible with Your HVAC System?

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your Roanoke house, HEPA filters are a simple approach to purify the air your loved ones breathe.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the peak benchmark for air filtration. These filters are typically in use in medical centers, as they trap at baseline 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.

On account of their strong filtration performance, HEPA filters are thick and could reduce airflow in some home comfort units. It’s important to call a heating and cooling professional like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning in advance of installing one to prevent damage to your furnace. So, let’s go over whether you can install HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

What Is a HEPA Filter and How Does It Work?

HEPA filters were originally made to defend scientists against radiation as they developed the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters use intricate mesh that traps many substances. In modern times, these filters are often used in medical facilities, science labs and even homes.

If you attempted to install a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d potentially have trouble receiving enough air from your vents. This is because your furnace’s blower motor isn’t engineered to work with such a thick filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Use?

Filters are graded by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The bigger the number, the more effective the filter is at capturing tiny substances.

Here’s how common household filters stack up:

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

Greater ratings, ranging from MERV 14-20, are used in commercial and medical centers. A HEPA filter typically ranks at MERV 17-20.

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

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

To increase filtration power, some types of these systems include UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to consistently destroy select viruses in residences under specific airflow situations. And activated carbon filters can get rid of many pungent smells, including cooking scents or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home

There are a couple of different options that function 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 pollutants as miniscule as .3 micron. These filtration systems often have a multiple-step filtration process, with a prefilter for big particles, MERV 17 filter for the remaining particles 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 just the filter and can come with carbon filtration add-ons.

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

Here are a few things to check for when getting a filtration system for your residence:

  • Offers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Traps pollutants, bioaerosols and scents
  • Gives filtration for your complete residence, not just one area
  • Doesn’t create ozone, which could result in respiratory inflammation
  • Functions with smart thermostats

If you’re looking 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 matters to us, so we’ll work as a team to help you choose the best solution for your needs. Contact us at 540-302-8645 right away to request your appointment.

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