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How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

An appliance that promises to clean and purify your air is certainly enticing. But, what does an air purifier actually do?

How do air purifiers work?


HEPA Filtration

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air and these filters are designed to cleanse the air in your home by collecting and eliminating the impurities in your air including dust, dirt, hair, mold, bacteria, viruses, and other volatile organic compounds (VOC's) that circulate through the air you breathe in your home. capture variously sized particles within a multi-layered netting usually made out of fine fiberglass threads, which are thinner than the size of a human hair strand and have varying sized gaps. The filter is airtight and made of a dense sheet of small fibers pleated and sealed in a metal or plastic frame. Whether short-term or long-term exposure to these allergens or pollutants, your health is at risk. People tend to spend around 70%-90% of their time indoors and indoor air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. With a HEPA filter air purifier, you can combat the health issues associated with poor indoor air quality that includes asthma-type symptoms caused by allergens/pollutants within the air you breathe.

HEPA filters work by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. You can find HEPA filters in most air purifiers. These are small, portable units that may work for a single room. The HEPA filters offered by Fresh Air Matters vary in size and can purify the air within rooms from 100 sq ft to over 1,500 sq ft.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Our air purifiers use multi-filter technology, including HEPA filters, and as air moves through the filters, pollutants, and particles are captured and the clean air is pushed back out into the living space. Typically, filters are made of paper, fiber (often fiberglass), or mesh, and require regular replacement to maintain efficiency. We offer air purifiers that use carbon filters which adds another step in the VOC purification process. All air purifiers require minor routine maintenance to assure 100% efficiency. Maintenance includes filter replacement that needs to occur every 6-12 months. However, our Austin Air Systems air purifiers have a 5-year filter lifespan. True HEPA filters are effective at removing ultrafine particles such as dust, dander, pollen, mold, and other common allergens and pollutants in the home. The industry standard for such is that the unit must be able to remove at least 99.97% of particulates measuring 0.3-microns in diameter in a lab setting. Remember, it is important to note that in real-life settings, the actual efficacy of these devices would be far less as new pollutants are constantly emerging.

How effective are air purifiers?

The location, installation, flow rate, and operation time affect the purification process as well. You will want to use your air purifier in rooms that are used the most as high traffic and usage affects the overall air quality. For proper efficiency, you need a model designed to work in the room size. Choose a model that is designed for an area larger than the one you are outfitting it for if you want to operate it in a lower, quieter setting. The air purifier's fan draws air into the filter and particulates are captured in the filter. The larger particles (ones bigger than the fibers) are captured via impaction (particle crashes into the fiber), mid-sized particles are captured by interception (particle touches the fiber and is captured), and ultra-fine particles are captured by diffusion (while zig-zagging the particle will eventually hit and stick to the fiber).

Due in part to the fact that it is very difficult to separate the effects of known air-quality pollutants in your home from other environmental and genetic factors, it is difficult to emulate the at-home experience in labs. Therefore, although many manufacturers claim their products are 100% effective, very rarely is that absolute fact. However, our air purifiers have scientific research to back their claims and clinical trials have concluded the actual effectiveness of our HEPA filtration air purification products.

Ways To Reduce Indoor Airborne Allergens and Pollutants

Address the source of indoor air pollution and ventilate your home. If you are looking to supplement the work of your air purifier, we recommended trying these steps to help reduce indoor air irritants:

  1. Keep your windows open when it's safe to do so to prevent locking irritants into rooms (especially when air purifiers aren’t running!). Create a stronger cross draft by opening windows on opposite sides of the room if possible.

  2. Vacuum often with products that use HEPA bags and filtration to better collect indoor allergens like dust, pollen, dander, hair, and other VOCs. When using a vacuum, allergens tend to recirculate through the air. However, when the process of vacuuming is performed at least 3 times a week, those allergens and pollutants tend to reduce each time you vacuum.

  3. Minimize the use of candles or lighting wood fires and ban smoking inside the home. Reducing pollutant sources is a surefire way to improve air quality.

  4. Regularly change air filters to properly maintain HVAC equipment and maximize effectiveness. Your A/C filter is your first line of defense against the collection and recirculation of allergens that often pass through your HVAC system. When the filter becomes too congested or the fibers within your filter lose the electrostatic technology, the allergens that have collected release into your system and collect on your HVAC coils, within your duct system, or worse, back into the air you breathe. When the air filter is not regularly replaced, not only is your indoor air quality affected but so is the efficiency of your HVAC system. As your HVAC works harder to cool or heat your home, important components break down faster which requires expensive repairs. Fresh Air Matters offers A/C filter replacement plans that eliminate the need for you to worry about replacing your filters or cleaning your return vents again.

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