Can You Use HEPA Filters with Your HVAC System?

If you’re thinking about the indoor air quality in your Birmingham residence, HEPA filters are a effective approach to improve the air your family breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the top measure for air filtration. These filters are often installed in medical centers, as they filter at minimum 99.97% of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. These filters can capture microscopic pollutants from the air like mold, dust and pet dander.

Because of their strong filtration performance, HEPA filters are thick and can reduce airflow in some home comfort systems. It’s important to talk to a heating and cooling pro like Norrell Service Experts prior to installing one to avoid damaging your furnace. So, let’s go over if 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HEPA filters were originally made to safeguard scientists against radiation as they worked on the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters have very thin mesh that catches most contaminants. Today, these filters are often seen in medical facilities, science labs and even residences.

If you made an attempt to use a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d more than likely have trouble receiving ample 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 Work With?

Filters are classified by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the number, the more efficient the filter is at catching tiny particles.

Here’s how typical 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. Traps pollen, dust mites, mold and certain fumes.

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

Generally, the highest rating you can safely use in your furnace is MERV 13, but we recommend asking a heating and cooling company like Norrell Service Experts prior to keep clear of damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in residential settings are commonly installed in a separate whole-home air filtration system. This system is secured in your ductwork and filters in partnership with your HVAC system.

To increase 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 residences under particular airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can eliminate most offensive odors, like cooking odors or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your House

There are a couple of different solutions that operate alongside your HVAC unit—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 typically have a combined filtration process, with a prefilter for larger particles, MERV 17 filter for the residual contaminants and carbon filter for smells.

Air purification systems are often 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 have carbon filtration options.

Some of these systems are designed to work with distinct brands, while others are compatible with all brands. Norrell Service Experts can help you figure out what will give you the best results for your home.

Here are a couple of features to look for when buying a filtration system for your house:

  • Delivers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Filters contaminants, bioaerosols and scents
  • Gives filtration for your total house, not merely a single space
  • Doesn’t make ozone, which can create respiratory sensitivity
  • Compatible with smart thermostats

If you want to improve the indoor air quality in your house, the Experts at Norrell Service Experts 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 discover the right solution for your home. Contact us at 205-267-0023 now to schedule your appointment.

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