Do HEPA Filters Work with Your HVAC System?

If you’re worried about the indoor air quality in your Gainesville house, HEPA filters are a effective way to freshen the air your household breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the top standard for air filtration. These filters are frequently used in hospitals, as they trap at baseline 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. These filters can trap microscopic particles from the air including mold, dust and pet dander.

Due to their powerful filtration capabilities, HEPA filters are thick and could lower airflow in some home comfort equipment. It’s critical to talk to a heating and cooling pro like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning before installing one to avoid damage to your furnace. So, let’s discuss whether or not you can use HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

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

HEPA furnace filters were originally produced to defend scientists against radiation as they worked on the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters have intricate mesh that catches many contaminants. In modern times, these filters are typically seen in medical settings, science labs and even houses.

If you tried to use a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d potentially have problems getting ample air from your vents. This is due to the fact your furnace’s blower motor isn’t engineered to work with such a thick filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Work With?

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

Here’s how standard household filters rank:

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

Higher ratings, like MERV 14-20, are used in commercial and medical facilities. A HEPA filter typically ranks at MERV 17-20.

In most cases, 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 prior to prevent damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in residential settings are typically installed in a stand-alone whole-home air filtration system. This unit is placed within your ductwork and works 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 consistently destroy some viruses in homes under certain airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can wipe out the majority of strong scents, like cooking smells or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home

There are a few different options that operate alongside your HVAC equipment—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 sometimes have a multistep filtration process, with a prefilter for larger particles, MERV 17 filter for the leftover particles and carbon filter for smells.

Air purification systems are typically 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 compatible with certain brands, while others are compatible with all brands. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help you determine what will work best in your situation.

Here are a couple of things to check for when buying a filtration system for your family:

  • Delivers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Traps particles, bioaerosols and smells
  • Gives filtration for your total house, not only one area
  • Doesn’t create ozone, which can result in respiratory irritation
  • Works with smart thermostats

If you want to increase the indoor air quality in your home, the Experts at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning are here to help with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your loved ones’ comfort is our top priority, so we’ll work together to help you choose the ideal solution for your home. Contact us at 352-414-4006 right away to request your appointment.

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