How Do I know If I Need An Air Purifier?
There can be a whole host of reasons why an air purifier is beneficial in the home. However, this article concentrates on mold inside your house and will explain what mold is and why you should eliminate it from your home as soon as you can. We’ll also take a look at the different types of air cleaner available and why one of them stands out head and shoulders above its rivals.
But first, let’s take a quick look at the problems caused by mold. Molds are fungi organisms that digest the material they are growing on. They do this by breaking down organic matter, such as dead plants, leaves, and dead animals, that are decaying.
While molds do a vital job outdoors, mold growing indoors is a vastly different story. First of all, mold is unsightly, but it’s so much more than that because mold can have a seriously negative impact upon your health. Molds tend to
grow in colonies in warm, dark, humid areas of your home. These colonies release invisible (to the naked eye) mold spores into the air, and will continue to do so until they are almost completely removed from your home.
While these colonies are still active the most efficient means of removing the mold spores from the air is by using an air purifier to filter these and other pollutants, and thereby clean the air we breathe.
Having established the need to use an air cleaner when mold is present in your home, we’ll now look at the different types of purifier available.
What Are The Different Types of Air Purifier?
In this section, we’ll list and describe the different types of purifier available for the treatment of mold in the home.
A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) air purifier uses HEPA filters which are made from a fibrous glass fabric and designed to remove at least 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size, and even larger particles from the filtered air. Mold spores are normally about 1-20 microns in size, which makes HEPA filters ideal for trapping and removing mold spores from the air in your home.
When mold spores are trapped in the HEPA air filter the lack of moisture prevents them from growing into mold colonies. The better HEPA filters usually have an antimicrobial coating.
Not only will a HEPA filtered air purifier reduce your mold allergies but they can also remove other unhealthy antibodies from your home’s air, such as pollen, dust mite and pet dander. This improves the quality of air in your home’s so that the air you breathe is as clean and healthy as possible.
When choosing a HEPA air purifier make sure you purchase one with a true HEPA filter. There are many “HEPA-like” filters, but these usually have a much lower level of filtration than do genuine HEPA filters. HEPA filters also have ratings such as H10 or H14. The higher rating means the filter can remove a greater amount of particles from the air.
HEPA filters are “passive”, which means they don’t create ozone or other harmful unwanted by-products. You can operate HEPA filtered purifiers indefinitely (24/7) all year round. But make sure you replace the HEPA filter in your air cleaner when its life is up. The manual supplied by your purifier’s manufacturer will tell you the lifespan of your HEPA filter.
Some HEPA filters last six months, while others will last for a year or more. For obvious reasons, it does largely depend on whether pets and/or smokers are present.
Activated Carbon Filters
An activated carbon filter uses chemical adsorption to remove contaminants and impurities, such as: odors, chemicals and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are chemicals that contain carbon and are found in all living things.
You’ll often find activated carbon filters are included as pre-filters in air purifiers. Many HEPA purifiers have such a pre-filter installed.
Ionizers Air Purifiers
Many air cleaners have built-in, ionizers that help to trap airborne particles, to more efficiently clean the air in your home.
Ionizer air purifiers work by emitting negative ions into the air. These negative ions then attach to mold spores, dust, pollen, cigarette smoke and pet dander in the air to form larger particles, which can more easily be trapped by your purifier’s filters.
As we mentioned above emitted negative ions attach to allergens in the air, which makes them fall to the floor or stick to walls. As a result, the air might well be cleaner but the mold spores are still in the room, stuck to the furniture, walls or floor. They are still allergenic and can be stirred up into the air again.
An advantage of an ionizer air purifier is that you don’t have any filters that you have to replace. Another is that they often use less electricity than HEPA purifiers, and they run almost silently.
Ionizers create small levels of ozone, although in amounts that less than safety standard levels. Nevertheless, ozone is toxic and reactive and damages lungs if the level is high enough. Over time. ionizers can cause “a black wall effect”, where the walls and furniture surrounding the ionizer gradually darken in color.
There are many ionizer air purifiers on the market, but know that scientific studies have concluded that most ionizers score “near the bottom of the effectiveness ratings” when it comes to removing pollutants like mold spores from the air.
Ultraviolet Light (UV) Generators
UV light generators kill mold by shining UV light directly onto the mold. The UV light also needs to shine on mold for a matter of minutes to kill the mold effectively. For practical reasons, it can be hard to shine ultraviolet light into every nook and cranny where the mold is prevalent.
A number of air purifiers have UV lamps is inside to supposedly kill micro-organisms like mold and bacteria as they pass by the lamp.
The theory is fine because there is no doubt that UV light can neutralize and eliminate many types of bacteria and other contaminants. However, it must be given sufficient time to do so.
Unfortunately, this cannot be effective because the air runs through the purifier far too quickly and the UV light doesn’t get enough time to perform its task.
The bottom line is if you use a UV air purifier, you’re not really improving the indoor air quality of your home.
Ozone is a colorless unstable toxic gas with a pungent odor and highly reactive oxidizing properties, which destroys biological organisms like mold and bacteria.
An ozone generator emits ozone into the air in order to kill mold colonies and spores. Be warned though, ozone levels that are high enough to kill mold and bacteria also damage the linings of animal and human lungs.
This explains why ozone generators are mainly used by professional companies for deep, intensive treatment where the mold problem is bad enough to warrant such radical measures.
For obvious reasons of safety, you and your family must leave your house for several hours during this procedure.
Ozone generators are not for use by the home owner and are only included here for completeness.
What is the Best Air Purifier For Mold?
The very best type of air purifier for mold problems in most homes is invariably one with a HEPA filter and an activated carbon pre-filter.
As stated above, the HEPA filters capture 99.97% of 0.3 micron particles and an even greater percentage of larger particles. with mold spores being in the region of 1-20 microns in size, the HEPA filter air purifier is perfect for filtering those mold spores out of the air.
The activated carbon pre-filter also actively neutralizes mold odors and harmful chemicals.
Air Cleaners Help With Mold Spores In The Air
If you have a mold problem in your home you must first of all tackle the source of the problem and get the mold removed. People will often buy an air purifier thinking it will get rid of mold. This is wrong because air purifiers will not kill the mold that’s already growing on the surfaces in your home. The role of the air purifier is to remove the mold spores from the air you breathe.
Be aware that even though you’ve had a mold problem fixed, there will always be many mold spores still in the air. And of course, mold spores are continually blowing in from the outside. It’s almost impossible to get rid of every last little colony of mold in your home, and even those tiny specks of mold growth send spores into the air.
Running an air cleaner in your home minimizes airborne mold spores, ensuring the air you breathe is as clean and healthy as can be. Purifiers are designed for constant use, 24/7, so the air you breathe will always be kept clean.
They use little power and are very quiet on low settings so you can leave them running all the time. When switched on, an air purifier will give you near-instant results by quickly cleaning all the air in a room, usually within several minutes.
Air Purifiers Help Prevent Mold
While air purifiers won’t kill the mold growing in your home, they will help prevent mold from expanding in the future. Mold spores land on damp surfaces and if not disturbed form mold colonies over time.
We’ve already established that air cleaners remove mold spores from the air, thereby considerably reducing the ability of new mold colonies to grow. This shows that purifiers really can be a great long-term help in reducing mold in your home.
Air Purifiers Help With So Much More Than Mold
In addition to eliminating mold spores, purifiers are also great for extracting dust, smoke, bacteria, pollen, animal dander, dust mite feces, and VOCs. Some of them can even remove viruses from the air in your home.
An air cleaner removes many of the irritants that can trigger off an asthma attack and reduces the amount of dust in a room. You won’t need to dust and vacuum as often, which will also help keep your air cleaner.
What to Look For When Buying An Air Purifier
Good air quality is important in your home. When it comes to choosing the ideal machine, we feel there are five key factors for you to consider when buying an air purifier, as follows:
1. Air Purifiers and Room Size
The air purifier you should buy depends on the size of the room, in square feet, where you plan to use it. You
calculate the square footage by measuring the length and width of the room and multiplying the two numbers together. For instance, if your room is 24′ long and 20 ‘ wide the area is 24 x 20 = 480 sq feet.
Make sure you check air cleaners for their recommended room size, which will be given in their sales specification. It should be the same or greater than the room where you are going to run the purifier.
The size of the room recommended for an air purifier depends upon how fast the purifier can clean the air. For example, a cleaner should be able to clean all the air in a room at least twice per hour, with some purifiers managing six Air Changes per Hour (ACH). Generally, the higher the ACH the better.
Also, you should be able to find out the volume of air cleaned at different fan speeds in cubic feet per minute and/or per hour.
2. Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)
Another key feature in assessing a purifier is how quickly and how well the machine cleans the air. This Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), tells you the volume of air that an air purifier cleans of a certain particle per minute. CADR is calculated by multiplying the airflow in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) by the percentage of particles removed.
Consumer Reports rate CADR scores of above 350 as excellent, while below 100 are poor.
3. Air Purifier Power Usage
Sadly, purifiers s don’t run on fresh air, so you’ll need to consider how much electricity they use. Generally, the quicker an air purifier cleans the air, the more power it will use. Therefore, larger rooms use more electricity. However, purifiers do vary in efficiency, with some being able to clean more air for a similar amount of power.
Thankfully, most air cleaners use little power, often less than 10 watts on low, so you can run them constantly without fear of a large electricity bill.
4. Air Purifier Filter Replacement
In addition to power usage, the other operating cost is air purifier filter replacement. This cost depends on how many filters your machine has and how often you need to change them. This second factor will be affected if there are smokers or pets in the house – you’ll need to change them more often.
HEPA filter life will vary from about six months to five years, depending on type and who or what lives in the home. Oftentimes they can be washed, or cleaned and reused. When buying an air purifier, make sure you find out their replacement intervals and how much new filters cost before making your purchase.
5. Air Purifier Noise Levels
The fifth and final consideration is how much noise the cleaner gives out. Again, the noise level can be a compromise for how quickly the purifier can clean air.
What I do is use the highest setting when I first turn the machine on and then go and make a coffee. This gets a rapid change of air in the room before turning the purifier down to slower, quieter setting later.
The air purifier’s decibel (dB) rating (the amount of noise it makes) should be listed in the sales specification.
Most purifiers are very quiet, often virtually silent on low speed. Many air cleaners though become noisy on higher settings. You’ll need to check this carefully if it could be a problem for you.
In this article, we’ve established how beneficial an air purifier can be for cleaning the air you breathe, when you have mold inside your home. We’ve also shown you why a machine with a HEPA filter and an activated carbon pre-filter are the most efficient air purifiers you can buy to remove mold and other contaminants from the air you breathe.