Do HEPA Filters Function with Your HVAC System?

If you’re thinking about the indoor air quality in your Windsor house, HEPA filters are a simple approach to improve the air your family breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the peak measure for air filtration. These filters are typically used in hospitals, as they filter at least 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 outstanding filtration efficiency, HEPA filters are thick and could reduce airflow in some home comfort equipment. It’s important to contact a heating and cooling professional like Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts prior to installing one to prevent damage to your furnace. So, let’s review whether or not you can install HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

What Is a HEPA Filter and How Does It Work?

HEPA filters were primarily made to defend scientists against radiation as they created the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters use fine mesh that catches many contaminants. Today, these filters are typically installed in medical settings, science labs and even houses.

If you tried to use a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d more than likely have problems receiving ample air from your vents. This is because your furnace’s blower motor isn’t designed to work with such a thick filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Work With?

Filters are graded by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the number, the better the filter is at trapping small particles.

Here’s how typical household filters are categorized:

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

Better ratings, ranging from MERV 14-20, are in use in commercial and medical facilities. A HEPA filter commonly ranks at MERV 17-20.

Generally, the largest rating you can safely have in your furnace is MERV 13, but we recommend consulting with a heating and cooling company like Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts first to keep clear of damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in residences are typically installed in a separate whole-home air filtration system. This system is placed within your ductwork and runs alongside your HVAC system.

To enhance filtration power, some models of these systems have UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to consistently wipe out select viruses in residences under certain airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can get rid of the majority of offensive odors, like cooking smells or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home

There are a few different styles that function in partnership with your HVAC equipment—HEPA filtration systems, air filtration systems and media air cleaners.

A HEPA filtration system provides the greatest effectiveness, with 99.97% efficiency for contaminants down to .3 micron. These filtration systems sometimes have a multiple-step filtration process, with a prefilter for large particles, MERV 17 filter for the remaining particles and carbon filter for scents.

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

Some of these systems are compatible with certain brands, while others work with all brands. Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts can help you figure out what will give you the best results in your situation.

Here are several things to look for when considering a filtration system for your house:

  • Provides hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Captures contaminants, bioaerosols and odors
  • Delivers filtration for your complete house, not just one area
  • Doesn’t produce ozone, which might cause respiratory irritation
  • Compatible with smart thermostats

If you’re looking to improve the indoor air quality in your residence, the Experts at Bryant Heating & Cooling Service Experts are here to provide support with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your loved ones’ comfort is important to us, so we’ll work as a team to help you find the ideal solution for your family. Contact us at 226-773-3357 today to request your appointment.

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