Can You Use HEPA Filters with Your HVAC System?

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your Saint Charles house, HEPA filters are a great approach to freshen the air your household breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the peak standard for air filtration. These filters are typically used in hospitals, as they remove at minimum 99.97% of particles as little as 0.3 microns. These filters can capture microscopic substances from the air like mold, dust and pet dander.

Due to their powerful filtration capabilities, HEPA filters are thick and may restrict airflow in some home comfort units. It’s critical to talk to a heating and cooling pro like Golden Seal Service Experts before installing one to avoid damaging your furnace. So, let’s discuss whether or not you can install HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

What Is a HEPA Filter and How Does It Work?

HEPA furnace filters were initially designed to protect scientists from radiation as they developed the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters are made from fine mesh that captures many pollutants. Now, these filters are typically seen in medical facilities, science labs and even houses.

If you attempted to have a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d probably have problems getting adequate air from your vents. This is because your furnace’s blower motor isn’t engineered to work with such a deep 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 more efficient the filter is at catching microscopic pollutants.

Here’s how standard household filters are categorized:

  • Flat filters—MERV 5. Traps 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.

Better ratings, such as MERV 14-20, are installed in commercial and medical facilities. A HEPA filter typically ranks at MERV 17-20.

Generally, the biggest rating you can safely have in your furnace is MERV 13, but we recommend asking a heating and cooling company like Golden Seal Service Experts first to avoid damaging your furnace.

HEPA filters in residences are commonly used in a stand-alone whole-home air filtration system. This system is secured in your ductwork and filters in partnership with your HVAC system.

To boost filtration power, these systems sometimes come with UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably wipe out some viruses in homes under certain airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can get rid of the majority of offensive smells, like cooking smells or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home

There are several different options that function alongside your HVAC equipment—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 small as .3 micron. These filtration systems typically have a multiple-step filtration process, with a prefilter for larger particles, MERV 17 filter for the remaining contaminants and carbon filter for smells.

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

Some of these systems are compatible with distinct brands, while others are compatible with all brands. Golden Seal Service Experts can help you decide what will work best for your home.

Here are several things to check for when buying a filtration system for your house:

  • Provides hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Removes pollutants, bioaerosols and scents
  • Provides filtration for your complete home, not only one space
  • Doesn’t make ozone, which may result in respiratory inflammation
  • Compatible with smart thermostats

If you’re seeking to increase the indoor air quality in your house, the Experts at Golden Seal Service Experts are here to assist you with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your family’s comfort is our top priority, so we’ll work together to help you choose the ideal solution for your needs. Contact us at 630-246-2698 today to schedule your appointment.

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