What Does An Air Purifier Do? (And What It Doesn’t!)

By March 29, 2018Air Quality
What Does An Air Purifier Do? (And What It Doesn't!)

If you’ve got allergies, pets, kids, or that musty “stale house” odor, you may be considering investing in an air purifier. But even ten minutes researching on Google can leave you feeling frustrated and confused. There’s a lot of information – and a lot of misinformation, usually in an attempt to sell one product or another.

Air purifiers can do a lot of good, from reducing allergy symptoms, to killing germs, helping with odors, even helping your heating and cooling system work more efficiently. But not all air purifiers can do all things. And not all can do them as effectively.

Here are some of the things air purifiers can do – and which type of purifiers do them best. Plus a few things that no air purifier will ever do.

Air Purifiers Trap Allergens. Sometimes.

Different air purifiers have different purifying components. Some trap large particles – like dust – and other trap small, even microscopic particles like viruses. How your air purifier works depends on its capabilities.

A HEPA filter will trap larger particles of .3 microns and larger. That typically includes things like pollen, dust and pet dander. If you have allergies, everyone from your HVAC contractor to your doctor will recommend HEPA filters for your system.

Step away from the tissues! Let's talk about cleaning up your air.Step away from the tissues! Let's talk about cleaning up your air.

Air Purifiers Kill Germs. Sometimes.

HEPA won’t, however, get rid of germs. For that you’ll need an electrostatic filter, which can trap microscopic particles as small as .1 microns in size. It will not kill germs, but will simply trap them on a collection plate until it is washed. A dirty collection plate can reduce this filter’s effectiveness (the same way a dirty HEPA filter is less effective).

If you want to trap AND kill germs, you’ll need a UV light purifier, which is effective against microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. In fact, even health care professionals use UV light to disinfect and neutralize airborne germs.

If you’re serious about killing germs, look for an air purifier that not only kills germs as they pass through the UV light, but one that actively emits germ-killing particles that are effective on surfaces, too.

Air Purifiers Eliminate Odors. Sometimes.

HEPA filters may help reduce allergies but they won’t get rid of those stale, musty odors that can accumulate as a result of everything from smoking to cooking and beauty care products.

Electrostatic filters won’t be much help in that regard either. For odor removal, you’ll want to rely on a carbon activated filter. These will help to trap and neutralize odors and even remove chemical toxins.

No more 'wet dog' or 'yesterday's meatloaf'. Get a free estimate for air purification.No more 'wet dog' or 'yesterday's meatloaf'. Get a free estimate for air purification.

Air Purifiers Keep Your HVAC System Working Efficiently. Sometimes.

If you have physical filters (like those HEPA filters), they can help to keep particles from entering your ductwork and making their way into the delicate (and sometimes expensive) components of your heating and cooling system.

That will help your system function more efficiently and avoid unnecessary breakdowns.

However, filters are a double edged sword. If you fail to swap them out at appropriate intervals, they can become clogged and actually reduce the efficiency of your system. Clogged filters make it work harder, which increases energy bills, puts more wear and tear on the system and can reduce longevity.

You can avoid that problem by being diligent about replacing filters. Once every three months is average, but how average is your home? If you have pets, consider replacing them every 30-60 days. Add allergies on top of pets and you may want to reduce that to as often as every 20 days.

Air Purifiers Never Give You A Pass On Preventative Measures

As much as a good air purifier can improve the air quality in your home, it can’t substitute for good housekeeping. Don’t assume that just because your filter is trapping dust that dust has been eradicated! You still need to break out the mop and rag to keep dust under control.

If you leave piles of dirty laundry in the bedroom and don’t clean the cat litter box for a week, no air purifier is going to make your home smell outdoors-fresh.

Nor should you assume that if you have an air purifier, you can skip recommended steps for controlling allergies, like using dust mite covers for your bedding and keeping Fido neatly trimmed.

Consider, also, that dirty ducts may be inhibiting the effectiveness of your system. If it’s been a while since they’ve been cleaned, if you have pets, if you’ve done any indoor construction work or if you’re allergies just seem to keep getting worse, it could be time to have ducts professionally cleaned.

The bottom line when it comes to what air purifiers can (and can’t) do for you is that it depends on which type you choose. The best air purifiers use a combination of multiple filtration methods to produce the healthiest, cleanest air in your home.

If you’d like to know more about which air purification system is best for your home, get in touch with us for a free consultation and estimate to install the purifier that best suits you.

Stay healthier and breathe easier. Contact us for a free estimate.Stay healthier and breathe easier. Contact us for a free estimate.