Are HEPA Filters Hard on Furnaces?

HEPA high-efficiency particulate filters are renowned for their ability to remove up to 99% of the smallest air particles. However, due to the dense filtration material used in these filters, the air pressure needed to force air through them is too large for an oven or air conditioning fan to handle. Installing a HEPA filter in an oven would restrict airflow to the point where no air would escape through the vents. While a high-efficiency air filter offers a number of advantages, it also has certain drawbacks.

HEPA filters are thick and dense, which can substantially interfere with the airflow process of your HVAC equipment. If airflow is restricted, the demand for heating and cooling on the property will increase, forcing utility bills to skyrocket and potentially causing damage to the entire HVAC system. For this reason, a HEPA filtration system is not suitable for all residential structures. HEPA furnace filters were initially produced to protect scientists from radiation when they developed the atomic bomb during World War II.

This high rate of particulate capture comes at a cost that HEPA filters have more resistance to airflow than MERV filters. The effectiveness of air filters depends on a wide range of factors, including how often they are replaced and the efficiency of the heating or air conditioning system with which they operate. Oven filters designed to act as whole-house air filters add stress to the blower in an HVAC system by impeding airflow. Two design adjustments to the facility can resolve this problem and potentially prevent an after-hours call from a disgruntled customer.

This may mean moving the filter away from the oven side to create the space necessary for the duct to widen and match the size of the filter, and then narrowing back to rejoin the existing duct. In addition, a blower forced to work harder than it was designed also makes more noise, due to the operation of the engine and the flow of air through the duct network. Everyone agrees that you should change your HVAC filter on a regular basis, but not everyone agrees on the type of filter you should use. Perhaps the most viable option for indoor air filtration throughout a space (home or work) is to add an external HEPA filtration unit to your existing HVAC system.

These filtration systems sometimes have a multi-step filtration process, with a pre-filter for large particles, a MERV 17 filter for excess contaminants, and a carbon filter for odors. People with breathing difficulties exacerbated by indoor or outdoor allergens will find relief by installing a HEPA filter. Air purification systems are usually the complete package, with a hospital-grade MERV 16 filter, germicidal lights and carbon filters. There are more than 50 sources of indoor air pollution that the standard air filter must remove from your home's ventilation system before sending air back through the oven vents. This means that the blower in your HVAC equipment has to work harder to push air through the filter and, therefore, consumes more energy.