Can You Install HEPA Filters in Your HVAC System?

If you’re thinking about the indoor air quality in your Houston residence, HEPA filters are a great way to purify the air your family breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the top benchmark for air filtration. These filters are frequently installed in medical centers, as they filter at baseline 99.97% of particles as little as 0.3 microns. These filters can remove microscopic particles from the air including mold, dust and pet dander.

On account of their outstanding filtration capabilities, HEPA filters are thick and might lower airflow in some home comfort systems. It’s essential to call a heating and cooling professional like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning prior to installing one to prevent damage to your furnace. So, let’s review if 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 protect scientists from radiation as they worked on the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters use fine mesh that catches the majority of substances. Now, these filters are often installed in medical centers, science labs and even residences.

If you tried to install a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d potentially have issues receiving adequate air from your vents. This is because your furnace’s blower motor isn’t designed to work with such a dense filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Handle?

Filters are categorized by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The greater the number, the better the filter is at capturing tiny substances.

Here’s how typical household filters rank:

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

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

Generally, the largest rating you can safely install in your furnace is MERV 13, but we recommend consulting with a heating and cooling company like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning prior to prevent damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in homes are often used in a separate whole-home air filtration system. This system is placed in your ductwork and purifies alongside your HVAC system.

To increase filtration power, some models of these systems include UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to consistently destroy certain viruses in homes under certain airflow situations. And activated carbon filters can get rid of the majority of pungent smells, including cooking odors or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your House

There are a few different solutions that operate alongside your HVAC system—HEPA filtration systems, air filtration systems and media air cleaners.

A HEPA filtration system delivers the highest effectiveness, with 99.97% efficiency for particles as small as .3 micron. These filtration systems typically have a combined filtration process, with a prefilter for larger particles, MERV 17 filter for the residual 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 just the filter and might have carbon filtration options.

Some of these systems are designed to work with certain brands, while others work with all brands. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help you figure out what will give you the best results for your home.

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

  • Offers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Removes pollutants, bioaerosols and odors
  • Provides filtration for your whole house, not only a single room
  • Doesn’t create ozone, which may result in respiratory sensitivity
  • Functions 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 assist you with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your household’s comfort is our top priority, so we’ll work as a team to help you find the best solution for your family. Contact us at (713) 352-7887 right away to get your appointment.

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