Can You Use HEPA Filters with Your HVAC System? 

If you’re worried about the indoor air quality in your Nashville house, HEPA filters are a great way to enhance the air your household breathes.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the peak standard for air filtration. These filters are often used in medical centers, as they filter at minimum 99.97% of particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. These filters can remove microscopic substances from the air such as mold, dust and pet dander.

On account of their strong filtration efficiency, HEPA filters are dense and may lower airflow in some home comfort systems. It’s crucial to contact a heating and cooling Expert like Mid-State Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing before installing one to avoid damage to your furnace. So, let’s go over if you can use HEPA filters in your HVAC system.

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

HEPA furnace filters were primarily produced to safeguard scientists against radiation as they developed the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters have very thin mesh that catches most contaminants. Today, these filters are frequently seen in medical settings, science labs and even homes.

If you made an attempt to have a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d probably have issues getting ample air from your vents. This is because your furnace’s blower motor isn’t designed to work with such a thick filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Use?

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

Here’s how standard household filters stack up:

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

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

Normally, the largest rating you can safely install in your furnace is MERV 13, but we advise consulting with a heating and cooling company like Mid-State Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing first to prevent damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in homes are commonly part of a separate whole-home air filtration system. This system is placed inside your ductwork and runs alongside your HVAC system.

To enhance filtration power, these systems sometimes include UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to consistently destroy some viruses in residences under specific airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can eliminate many offensive odors, like cooking scents or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home

There are a couple of different options that work with your HVAC equipment—HEPA filtration systems, air filtration systems and media air cleaners.

A HEPA filtration system is most effective, with 99.97% efficiency for pollutants as little as .3 micron. These filtration systems often have a combined filtration process, with a prefilter for large particles, MERV 17 filter for the residual contaminants and carbon filter for odors.

Air purification systems are often the complete package, with a hospital-grade MERV 16 filter, germicidal lights and carbon filters. A media air cleaner includes the filter and might offer carbon filtration add-ons.

Some of these systems are designed to work with specific brands, while others are compatible with all brands. Mid-State Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing can help you determine what will give you the best results for your family.

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

    • Provides hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
    • Traps pollutants, bioaerosols and scents
    • Delivers filtration for your whole residence, not only one space
    • Doesn’t create ozone, which can result in respiratory sensitivity

If you’re looking to increase the indoor air quality in your home, the Experts at Mid-State Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing are here to help with a free, no-obligation home comfort assessment. Your family’s comfort matters to us, so we’ll work together to help you find the right solution for your needs. Contact us at 615-799-0427 now to get your appointment.

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