Are HEPA Filters Suited for Your HVAC System?

If you’re worried about the indoor air quality in your Albany house, HEPA filters are a powerful method to enhance the air your loved ones breathe.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the gold measure for air filtration. These filters are often installed in hospitals, as they filter at least 99.97% of particles as little as 0.3 microns. These filters can capture microscopic substances from the air including mold, dust and pet dander.

Due to their powerful filtration performance, HEPA filters are thick and may reduce airflow in some home comfort equipment. It’s critical to call a heating and cooling professional like Roland J. Down Service Experts in advance of installing one to avoid damage to your furnace. So, let’s review if you can use HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

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

HEPA filters were initially designed to defend scientists against radiation as they developed the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters use fine mesh that traps the majority of contaminants. Now, these filters are typically seen in medical settings, science labs and even homes.

If you attempted to have a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d probably have problems receiving enough air from your vents. This is since your furnace’s blower motor isn’t made to work with such a thick filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Work With?

Filters are categorized 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 are categorized:

  • Flat filters—MERV 5. Filters 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, such as MERV 14-20, are in use in commercial and medical facilities. A HEPA filter typically ranks at MERV 17-20.

Normally, the highest rating you can safely have in your furnace is MERV 13, but we recommend asking a heating and cooling company like Roland J. Down Service Experts beforehand to avoid damaging your furnace.

HEPA filters in homes are frequently installed in a separate whole-home air filtration system. This system is placed inside your ductwork and works with your HVAC system.

To boost filtration power, some models of these systems have UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably destroy some viruses in homes under particular airflow conditions. 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 Residence

There are a few different styles that operate alongside 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 contaminants as little as .3 micron. These filtration systems often have a multiple-step filtration process, with a prefilter for large particles, MERV 17 filter for the remaining pollutants and carbon filter for odors.

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 have carbon filtration options.

Some of these systems are designed to work with distinct brands, while others can be used with all brands. Roland J. Down Service Experts can help you decide what will give you the best results in your situation.

Here are a couple of things to be on the lookout for when considering a filtration system for your house:

  • Delivers hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Removes particles, bioaerosols and odors
  • Gives filtration for your complete home, not only one space
  • Doesn’t produce ozone, which can result in respiratory sensitivity
  • Works with smart thermostats

If you’re looking to improve the indoor air quality in your residence, the Experts at Roland J. Down Service Experts 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 ideal solution for your home. Contact us at 518-417-2938 now to schedule your appointment.

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