Are HEPA Filters Suited for Your HVAC System?

If you’re thinking about the indoor air quality in your Hillsborough home, HEPA filters are a simple way to enhance the air your family breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the top standard for air filtration. These filters are typically installed in medical centers, as they trap at baseline 99.97% of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. These filters can trap microscopic substances from the air such as mold, dust and pet dander.

Because of their strong filtration performance, HEPA filters are thick and might reduce airflow in some home comfort units. It’s essential to call a heating and cooling Expert like Fras-Air/General Service Experts before installing one to avoid damaging 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 furnace filters were primarily made to defend scientists against radiation as they developed the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters are made from fine mesh that traps the majority of contaminants. Today, these filters are often installed in medical centers, science labs and even houses.

If you tried to install a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d probably have problems getting ample air from your vents. This is because your furnace’s blower motor isn’t made to work with such a deep filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Work With?

Filters are graded by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The greater the number, the more effective the filter is at catching microscopic particles.

Here’s how common household filters are categorized:

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

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

Generally, the biggest rating you can safely use in your furnace is MERV 13, but we recommend consulting with a heating and cooling company like Fras-Air/General Service Experts prior to avoid damaging your furnace.

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

To boost filtration power, some types of these systems come with UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably wipe out certain viruses in homes under certain airflow situations. And activated carbon filters can get rid of most pungent odors, including cooking odors or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home

There are a few different solutions that work with 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 little as .3 micron. These filtration systems typically have a combined filtration process, with a prefilter for large particles, MERV 17 filter for the residual particles and carbon filter for odors.

Air purification systems are often the full package, with a hospital-grade MERV 16 filter, germicidal lights and carbon filters. A media air cleaner includes the filter and may come with carbon filtration options.

Some of these systems are designed to work with distinct brands, while others work with all brands. Fras-Air/General Service Experts can help you figure out what will work best in your situation.

Here are several things to check for when considering a filtration system for your family:

  • Offers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Filters pollutants, bioaerosols and smells
  • Provides filtration for your whole residence, not only one space
  • Doesn’t create ozone, which might cause respiratory irritation
  • Compatible with smart thermostats

If you want to increase the indoor air quality in your home, the Experts at Fras-Air/General Service Experts are here to help with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your household’s comfort matters to us, so we’ll work as a team to help you find the ideal solution for your needs. Contact us at 908-448-2154 now to request your appointment.

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