An air purifier is a device that removes contaminants from indoor air in order to improve indoor air quality. Optimal indoor air quality is conducive to better general health and may be necessary for homes with residents that have allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions. The simple answer to whether air purifiers work is yes. A more complete answer is much more complex. One reason is that many companies use terms like air purifier, air cleaner, air filter and so forth interchangeably. Another reason is that there are many different types of air purifiers. Therefore, it is necessary to have particular indoor air quality goals and to choose an air purifier that has the capabilities needed to achieve them.
Types of Air Purifiers
The most basic form of air purifier or air cleaner is an air filter. Air filters use mechanical filtration to remove particulate matter from the air. Most air purifiers on the market have a mechanical filtration component. Another common component is activated carbon, which is able to absorb gases and chemicals. Many of the best air purifiers will also use ultraviolet light as UVC light kills bacteria, viruses and other microbes quickly and efficiently. Air scrubbers are becoming increasingly prevalent as well since scrubbed particles become supercharged and are able to destroy surface contaminants. Other air purifier components include polarized media, photocatalytic oxidation, ionizers and ozone generators.
Dust and Dust Mites
Dust accumulation is to be expected in all homes, and air filtration can be an effective way to help manage it. For dust control, most IAQ professionals recommend an air purifier with a True HEPA filter. True HEPA indicates that the air purifier and any air filter replacements conform to the U.S. DOE standard. Be mindful that the term HEPA is often used on inferior products that do not work nearly as well.
Air filtration alone is not enough to control dust in a home. It is recommended that at least once a week you dust your home top to bottom and then vacuum using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. The American Lung Association estimates that 80% of homes have dust mites, which are particularly problematic for those with respiratory conditions. The best way to avoid dust mites is through regular dusting and the use of an air filter. You should also invest in a dehumidifier because the ideal relative humidity for humans fosters what is an inhospitable environment for dust mites.
Households with dogs and cats will often have a pet dander problem, and the issue can be greatly exacerbated in homes with multiple pets. The good news is that if you invest in a good air filtration system for dust, it will perform double duty for pet dander. When controlling pet dander, it is important that you change all air filters as often as needed. How often you should do that depends on the type of pets you have, the number and so on. The general advice is to check your air filters every couple of weeks at first. Replace them whenever you can see dirt on the filter as that means it is saturated. Over the course of that first year, you will get a sense of how often you need to swap them out.
An air purifier with activated carbon is effective at helping to control odors in a home. Carbon filters typically need be replaced every three to four months, but this will vary from home to home. Of course, an air purifier will not necessarily eliminate the source of the odors. For that, you need to control dust in the home and ensure that your ventilation system is adequate and functioning well. You may also want to consider a carbon filter for your kitchen and bathrooms as those areas will be the primary sources of most odors in a home.
A HEPA air filter is the best option for mold spores. A True HEPA filter will trap 99.97% of all particulates down to 0.3 microns in size, and the smallest mold spore is about 10 microns. You should also invest in a dehumidifier as reduced moisture in a home makes it a less welcoming environment for mold. This two-pronged approach should be ample to control mold in most homes. However, if you have mold growth due to water damage, for instance, you need to deal with the source of the problem as the air filtration and dehumidification will not be enough.
Air purification is an invaluable tool to reduce and even eliminate symptoms in people with allergies. Pollen can be as small as 0.5 microns, which means that a true HEPA filter will be effective. Make sure to evaluate the clean air delivery rate of the air filter you choose. CADR is a measure of airflow. Experts generally recommend a CADR of at least 150, but if someone in the home has severe allergies, it is worthwhile to invest in a system with a CADR of 300 or higher.
There is a number of different types of air purification systems that can kill bacteria. However, ultraviolet radiation is generally considered to be the most effective. Consider that hospitals use ultraviolet radiation to disinfect the air and surfaces. If you want to disinfect surfaces as well, you may also want to consider an air scrubber. There are other types of air sanitizers. You can pair these with ultraviolet light for a multilayered approach to air purification, but if you are only going to have one system, then ultraviolet light should be the choice.
Ultraviolet radiation kills viruses as well, and air purifiers that use UVC light have been shown to be effective at reducing the presence of viruses in homes and thus reducing the frequency at which its members get sick. However, even with ultraviolet radiation, experts still recommend that you sanitize surfaces, wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer and so forth.
Volatile Organic Compounds
In order to remove VOCs and other gases, you need an air purifier with an activated carbon filter. You should also have functioning exhaust fans in all kitchens and bathrooms. It’s also advised to consider upgrading your home with a mechanical ventilator. Most VOCs in a home are inadvertently introduced by the residents. Avoid products that release VOCs or at least keep them stored outside of the living area. Also, when buying furniture and the like, look for items that will not off-gas VOCs.
Your Local IAQ Experts
3D Air Services, LLC is a locally owned heating and air conditioning company that has served Alabaster and the surrounding areas for more than 15 years. Our company offers a full range of indoor air quality services, including duct cleaning and air purifier installation, maintenance and repair. Our expert technicians also install, service and repair all manner of heating and cooling technologies, including gas and electric furnaces, heat pumps, steam and hot water boilers, and mini splits. You can also count on us to install, service or repair your water heater or generator. Call us today or contact us online if you have any questions about our products and services or would like to schedule an appointment.