Do HEPA Filters Work with Your HVAC System?

If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality in your Champaign residence, HEPA filters are a great way to purify the air your loved ones breathe.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the top standard for air filtration. These filters are often used in medical settings, as they filter at least 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. These filters can trap microscopic particles from the air such as mold, dust and pet dander.

On account of their powerful filtration efficiency, HEPA filters are thick and may reduce airflow in some home comfort systems. It’s essential to call a heating and cooling pro like Chief/Bauer Service Experts prior to installing one to avoid damage to your furnace. So, let’s review whether you can add HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

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

HEPA furnace filters were originally designed to protect scientists from radiation as they created the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters are made from very thin mesh that captures the majority of pollutants. Today, these filters are often used in medical facilities, science labs and even houses.

If you made an attempt to use a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d potentially have issues getting enough 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 Use?

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

Here’s how typical household filters rank:

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

Greater ratings, ranging from MERV 14-20, are in use in commercial and medical centers. A HEPA filter typically ranks at MERV 17-20.

In most cases, the biggest rating you can safely use in your furnace is MERV 13, but we recommend consulting with a heating and cooling company like Chief/Bauer Service Experts first to avoid damaging your furnace.

HEPA filters in residences are often part of an independent whole-home air filtration system. This system is placed within your ductwork and runs 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 dependably wipe out select viruses in homes under specific airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can get rid of many pungent smells, such as cooking scents or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Residence

There are a couple of different styles that work 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 particles as small as .3 micron. These filtration systems often have a multistep filtration process, with a prefilter for large particles, MERV 17 filter for the residual pollutants and carbon filter for smells.

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

Some of these systems are compatible with distinct brands, while others work with all brands. Chief/Bauer Service Experts can help you determine what will give you the best results for your family.

Here are a couple of features to check for when getting a filtration system for your residence:

  • Delivers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Removes contaminants, bioaerosols and odors
  • Provides filtration for your whole residence, not merely a lone area
  • Doesn’t create ozone, which might result in respiratory sensitivity
  • Functions with smart thermostats

If you’re looking to enhance the indoor air quality in your residence, the Experts at Chief/Bauer 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 with you to help you choose the right solution for your needs. Contact us at 217-689-2469 today to request your appointment.

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