Can You Use HEPA Filters with Your HVAC System?

If you’re thinking about the indoor air quality in your Calgary residence, HEPA filters are a easy way to enhance the air your loved ones breathe.

HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, is the gold benchmark for air filtration. These filters are typically used in medical settings, as they filter at least 99.97% of particles as little as 0.3 microns. These filters can capture microscopic pollutants from the air such as mold, dust and pet dander.

Because of their outstanding filtration efficiency, HEPA filters are thick and may restrict airflow in some home comfort units. It’s important to call a heating and cooling professional like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning before installing one to avoid damage to your furnace. So, let’s go over if 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HEPA furnace filters were originally made to defend scientists against radiation as they developed the atomic bomb during World War II. These fiberglass filters use fine mesh that traps most pollutants. Now, these filters are often used in medical settings, science labs and even houses.

If you attempted to have a HEPA filter in your furnace, you’d more than likely have problems receiving enough air from your vents. This is due to the fact your furnace’s blower motor isn’t designed to work with such a thick filter.

What MERV Rating Can My Furnace Use?

Filters are categorized by their MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The bigger the number, the greater the filter is at trapping small particles.

Here’s how standard household filters rank:

  • Flat filters—MERV 5. Filters pollen and dust mites.
  • Pleated filters—MERV 8. Filters 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 used in commercial and medical facilities. A HEPA filter typically ranks at MERV 17-20.

In most cases, the highest rating you can safely have in your furnace is MERV 13, but we recommend checking with a heating and cooling company like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning prior to prevent damage to your furnace.

HEPA filters in residential settings are commonly part of a stand-alone whole-home air filtration system. This unit is secured in your ductwork and operates alongside your HVAC system.

To enhance filtration power, some types of these systems include UV germicidal lights and activated carbon filters. Germicidal lights have been shown to reliably destroy some viruses in residences under certain airflow conditions. And activated carbon filters can wipe out most offensive scents, like cooking odors or tobacco smoke.

What to Look for in a HEPA Filter for Your Home

There are a couple of different solutions that work in partnership with your HVAC system—HEPA filtration systems, air filtration systems and media air cleaners.

A HEPA filtration system is most effective, with 99.97% efficiency for particles as small as .3 micron. These filtration systems typically have a multistep filtration process, with a prefilter for larger particles, MERV 17 filter for the remaining contaminants and carbon filter for scents.

Air purification systems are often the total 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 upgrades.

Some of these systems are compatible with certain brands, while others can be used with all brands. Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help you determine what will work best in your situation.

Here are a couple of things to check for when considering a filtration system for your home:

  • Provides hospital-grade filtration (MERV 16 and up)
  • Captures pollutants, bioaerosols and scents
  • Provides filtration for your whole residence, not only one room
  • Doesn’t produce ozone, which might result in respiratory inflammation
  • Compatible with smart thermostats

If you’re looking to boost the indoor air quality in your residence, 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 matters to us, so we’ll work as a team to help you find the best solution for your needs. Contact us at 403-279-5760 today to request your appointment.