Poor indoor air quality happens to be one of the leading causes of health problems in developed countries. If you are thinking about improving the nature of the air you breathe while indoors, it means you are health conscious. That is a really good thing. Taking preventive measures is always better than seeking a cure. Often people call us to know whether they can use HEPA filters with their HVAC system. Today, we shall dedicate this article to answer this critical question.
Before we proceed with the answer, it is important to know what constitutes a HEPA filter. Until your understanding of this particular aspect is not clear, you will not understand the difference between normal air filters and HEPA filters.
HEPA Is An Abbreviation
First and foremost, HEPA is just a short form. It is an abbreviation that stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. It happens to be the topmost standard for air filtration.
What Makes HEPA Filters Different?
The work of air filters is to trap the suspended particles in the air. Different types of air filters tend to have varying efficiencies in achieving that. Some, like HEPA filters, are the best and others not so much. The HEPA filters can successfully remove 99.97% of the particles as small as 0.3ᘈ or 0.3 microns.
Basic Facts About HEPA Air Filters
1. HEPA filters are made of fine fibers of glass or fiberglass. They also contain some amount of activated carbon-based substances.
2. HEPA air filters are extremely dense, so much so that the air cannot flow through it with ease.
3. HEPA air filters do not have any MERV rating as they exceed the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) test protocol.
The Way HEPA Air Filters Work
The HEPA air filters are made of multiple layers of fiberglass mesh. When air passes through the filter, the mesh network traps suspended particles and micro-organisms present in it. This way, the air becomes cleaner and purer as it crosses each level. This dense network of fiberglass mesh is responsible for its exceptionally high-efficiency.
Can You Use HEPA Filters With Your HVAC System
If you want to know the answer in a simple “Yes” or “No,” you will miss out on the important facts. That may prove to be a critical error on your part. HEPA filters can be used with HVAC systems, but using them is not recommended by HVAC manufacturers, contractors, and technicians. There are several reasons why its use is not advisable. Let’s have a brief look at them.
1. Puts Tremendous Strain On The System – The work of the HVAC system is to pull in the indoor air, cool or warm it to the desired temperature, and then push it back indoors. In all this, the free flow of air is of utmost importance, lacking which your system can malfunction. The HEPA filter is such an intricate web that passing its various layers is no easy task for air. The regular heating and cooling systems are not built, keeping this aspect in mind. Hence, when you use HEPA filters, the flow of air gets restricted. In turn, this puts the entire system under a lot of strain, making it work harder. Consequently, the chances of your unit shutting down or malfunctioning increases.
2. Will Reduce Your Units Efficiency – The HVAC unit’s efficiency depends on the amount of air it can treat (heat or cool) and the speed at which it can achieve it. When the airflow becomes sluggish (which is bound to happen with the HEPA filters), a lesser quantity of air can reach the furnace or the evaporator coils for heating or cooling. Needless to say, the power consumption increases, and so does the wear and tear of machinery. Therefore, the efficiency of the unit, which was until now top-notch, falls drastically.
3. Cooling And Heating Will Be Impacted – Let’s now talk about comfort…your comfort. When you use HEPA filters with your standard HVAC system, the cooling and heating capability of the unit will decline. It will happen because lesser air will reach the destination to be treated. Obviously, when the intake of air is less, so will be its output. So, the home will take much longer to become comfortable, and even then, you may have to compromise on your expectation and live with reality.
Can I Never Use HEPA Filters With My HVAC System?
The trouble with HEPA filters is that it restricts the flow of air, which is the root of all trouble. If you were to find a way around this problem, using HEPA filters with standard HVAC systems would not be unthinkable. A more powerful fan that helps pull in more air through the HEPA filters would be a good modification. Thankfully, HVAC manufacturers are already working on it. Today, there are many systems that are HEPA filters compatible. One needs to look for this detail while upgrading or buying a new unit.
If Not HEPA Filters, Then What?
If your current system is not HEPA filter compatible, it does not mean that you are compromising on your health. Remember, even these best-in-class filters are only 99.97% efficient. They do not guarantee 100% safety. Hence, using a filter with slightly less efficiency will also offer you almost the same level of efficiency.
A MERV 16 air filter will be 95% efficient in removing impurities of the size 0.3 microns and above. Thus, you can use them as a good alternative guilt-free and in good conscience.
To Sum Up
HEPA air filters are dense and slow down the flow of air. As a result, these can be used only in those HVAC systems that are HEPA compatible. In the rest, a MERV 16 air filter is a better alternative.
Since 1981, Aztil Air Conditioning has been tirelessly working in West Palm Beach, Florida, delivering exceptional sales and service to its customers. If you are seeking to make an improvement in the indoor air quality of your home or office, our air experts can help you with their knowledge and wisdom. We have a big team of 100+ technicians that are fully trained and have the necessary experience to complete any job. We offer a full suite of HVAC services, including installation, repairs, and maintenance. We are open 24/7, so you can reach us anytime by calling +1-888-729-8452.