Getting a whole-home air purifier can be a good investment if you are looking to improve your health and wellbeing, but before you purchase one, make sure to be well-informed. To make your selection easier, we provide you with a buying guide, where you can get details on the types and effects of a home air purifier, how to maintain one and how to get the most of it.
What Home Air Purifiers Do
Air purifiers are generally great for filtering dust, smoke, and pollen from the air. Multiple studies of portable air purifiers show that using HEPA filters results in reductions of 50 percent or higher in particulate matter. They can improve your overall cardiovascular health and ease allergy and asthma symptoms. To maximize the benefits of your whole home air purifier, regular house cleaning is highly recommended. The same goes for eliminating any mold issues in the house.
You can read more about mold and how does it affect our health: How does mold in the air affect our health?
Types of Home Air Purifiers
There are several technologies air purifiers employ for tackling indoor pollution. Some work better than others and some can actually be bad for your health.
Air purifiers with pleated filters use fans to force air through a dense web of fine fibers that trap particles. Filters with very fine mesh are HEPA filters—certified to collect 99.97% of particles of 0.3 microns in diameter—smoke and paint pigments, for example). HEPA filters can remove larger particles, including dust, pollen, and mold while they’re suspended in the air.
Activated carbon filters
Rather than catch particles like mechanical filters, sorbent filters use activated carbon that can adsorb some odor-causing molecules from the air. They may also tackle some gases, but they’re not particularly effective against formaldehyde, ammonia, or nitrogen oxide. Since they don’t combat particles, many air purifiers will include both an activated carbon filter and a pleated filter for catching particles. Activated carbon gets saturated faster than a pleated filter and requires replacement more frequently—every three months as opposed to every six to 12 months for pleated filters.
These machines produce ozone, a molecule that can react with certain pollutants to alter their chemical composition. This can result in dangerous indoor air quality. Studies have shown that low levels of ozone—the chief ingredient of smog—don’t effectively destroy indoor pollutants. Studies also show that ozone has been linked to decreases in lung function and increased risks of throat irritation, coughing, chest pain, and lung tissue inflammation.
Electronic air purifiers
Electrostatic precipitators and ionizers charge particles in the air, so they stick to plates on the machine or to nearby surfaces by a magnetic-like attraction. They’re not very recommended because they can produce ozone.
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI)
Some manufacturers claim their air purifiers kill airborne viruses, bacteria, and fungal spores with UV lamps. But some bacteria and mold spores are resistant to UV radiation. To work, the UV light must be powerful enough and the exposure must last long enough to be effective.
PCO uses ultraviolet radiation and a photocatalyst, such as titanium dioxide, to produce hydroxyl radicals that oxidize gaseous pollutants. Depending on the pollutant, this reaction can sometimes generate harmful byproducts, such as ozone, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide.
Reasons for Buying a Home Air Purifier
There are many reasons why you should be getting one, however, the most important ones listed below may make a crucial change in the health of you and your loved ones. Here are five reasons:
You Are an Animal Lover with Allergies
Many people who live with pets may experience allergies related directly to pet dander, hair, and fur. An air purifier works effectively to filter this dander from your air and leave a cleaner environment.
You can read more about allergies and air pollution: 10 Easy tips to protect yourself from air pollution and asthma at home
Your House Smells Dirty
Sensitivity to smells is something a lot of people find bothersome. If your home seems to absorb various odors, an air purifier could eliminate unwanted smells and leave the air fresh. Positioning an air purifier at the entrance of these odors can help to eliminate them before you ever smell them.
Your Loved Ones Have Respiratory Problems
Respiratory diseases such as asthma are unpredictable in the sense that certain allergens can immediately set off an attack that can reduce lung function and in severe cases, result in an inability to breathe. For families with children or parents with such diseases, doctors often recommend keeping air quality as high as possible to allow easier breathing.
You Live with a Smoker
Secondhand smoke is incredibly harmful to the human body and can have serious side effects. Air purifiers with HEPA filters are specifically designed to eliminate smoke and tobacco pollutants and odors.
You Have a Renovated Home
That “new house” smell can be filled with pollutants such as formaldehyde which is a dangerous toxin shown to cause health problems. An air purifier can help filter this toxic air. This is an especially smart decision if you have small children or babies.
FAQ: What should I consider before I get a home air purifier?
Make sure that it is easily portable and has all the needed indicators for filter change (washable filters are usually best). This will make it easier to care for it.
What to Consider Before Buying a Home Air Purifier
Before you decide to get a whole-home air purifier, check below what to have in mind:
The reusable filters collect large particles before they reach the primary filter, potentially extending its life and saving you money on filters.
Filter Service Indicator Light
It will flash when it’s time to replace (or clean) the filter. A clogged air purifier won’t work, so you need to change the filter regularly.
These particle counters can detect how polluted the air is and automatically adjust the air purifier’s cleaning speed accordingly.
This lets you easily adjust settings from across the room. Some models use a phone app for the same purpose.
Carrying Handles and Wheels
Most portable air purifiers weigh between 10 and 20 pounds, so if you plan on moving it from room to room, get a model with casters.
Home Air Purifier Filters
Most air purifiers usually come with pre-filters that trap large particles of hair and dirt. Pre-filters rarely need replacing. For most models, you only need to wash them regularly or wipe them clean using a damp cloth. You should clean pre-filters at least once a month. The most critical aspect of air purifier maintenance is a regular HEPA filter and Activated Carbon filter cleaning and replacement. Some air purifiers have a filter change indicator that lets you know when it’s time to clean or replace these filters. Otherwise, the standard practice is changing the filter every 3-6 months.
FAQ: When should I change the filter of my home air purifier?
This depends on how much you use your unit. However, the best practice is to change them every 6 months.
Home Air Purifier Maintenance
Air purifier maintenance will vary depending on the model. How often you maintain it will also depend on how much you use it. If you put an air purifier in a relatively clean environment, you will need to maintain it less often. However, if you continually expose it to a lot of dust, pollen, mold infected areas or cigarette smoke, you will need to clean it more often. For most people, a good rule of thumb is to clean the entire unit every 6 months. Making a note on your calendar to maintain your air purifier at least twice per year is a good plan to follow unless it is getting a dirtier more often.
FAQ: Where should I place my home air purifier?
Put it in a room where you spend most of the time. Make sure to leave a few feet of space around it for unobstructed air circulation.
Best Ways to Use a Home Air Purifier
Choosing a Location
Air purifiers need breathing space, so be sure it has a few feet of clear space around the top and all four sides for unobstructed air circulation. Also, purifiers come in a wide variety of sizes — be sure to use the right size purifier for the room where you put it.
Pointing the flow
If the room is large, make sure the flow of clean air from your purifier is directed nearby, where you will get the most benefit. If the room is smaller, this won’t be as important because the purified air will circulate throughout the room.
Leave it on
This is especially important for homes with smokers and for people with health conditions like allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Today’s air purifiers are energy-efficient, so leave it on.
Close the windows
Just like cooling with air conditioning, it’s better to keep the air in your home clean by limiting the introduction of outside air and its pollution.
Read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining your home air purifier. In general, HEPA and carbon filters need replacing every 6 months. Washable filters should be cleaned every ten days or so.
To sum up
Choosing a whole home air purifier does not have to be a hassle. By following the guide above you can now make an informed decision and purchase the one that suits you best. Just make sure to choose one that is easy to move around and maintain and make the most of it by placing it properly. Making a small household change today may have an amazingly positive health benefit for you and your family and that’s what really matters!
Read more from our page: Mold and Air Quality at Home