How to Choose the Right Air Purifier
While there are many economic and environmental merits to the air-tight nature of today’s construction, your indoor air is probably taking the hit. In fact, your energy efficient windows and doors are not only keeping outdoor pollution from entering your home, but they are keeping harmful indoor pollutants from escaping. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to overcome this construction catch-22. To help you get started, the Blue Flame team is here to tell you how to choose the right air purifier!
Identify the Problem
As is the case in most air quality quandaries, discovering the proper solution begins with identifying the problem. For the many different factors that can plague your indoor air, there are just as many solutions. Some of the most common IAQ (indoor air quality) problems are mold and mildew, dry air, dust, and dander. In addition to these issues, you may also be breathing in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are present in many common cleaning, construction, and beauty products.
Common IAQ Problems and Their Sources
To best tackle your IAQ problem, you’ll need to remove pollutants at the source. In order to help you narrow the field of potential causes, here are some common IAQ problems and their sources:
One of the most common IAQ problems for homeowners is the presence of mold. Unfortunately, mold is everywhere and it’s impossible to remove energy mold spore from the air. However, if you need mold remediation, your home air likely has an unusually ubiquitous level. Because mold requires moisture to thrive, it often makes a home in areas like bathrooms, basements, laundry rooms, and kitchens. Particularly if you don’t have a proper ventilation system in place in these areas, mold can quickly become a problem.
Dust and Dander
Did you know that the average 6-room home in the U.S. collects around 40 pounds of dust each year? Because dust is a mixture of our own skin cells and the waste produced by the dust mites who consume those cells, it’s impossible to eliminate dust altogether. House dust usually forms on fabrics, and in high humidity areas. Poor ventilation can further exacerbate the presence of dust. If you have any pets, you probably also have some dander to deal with. Comprised of your pet’s dead skin cells and dust mites, dander is one of the most notorious irritants to allergy sufferers.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, your home air may be too dry. While this IAQ problem doesn’t typically lead to unsightly mold growth, it does come with its own set of drawbacks. Because warmer air holds more moisture than cold air, dry indoor air is typically prevalent during the winter months. This issue is worsened by your home heating. When you heat your home, hot air rises, while the dry, cold air settles into the low areas. If you notice an increase in static electricity and dry skin with chapped lips, you probably have a dry air problem. In more extreme instances, overly dry indoor air can lead to cold and flu infections, exacerbated asthma and allergies, and damage to your wallpaper and wood flooring.
When investigating the presence of VOCs in your home air, there are many different sources to consider. For instance, formaldehyde is common in many building materials like plywood and foam insulation, as well as household products like dryer sheets. In addition to formaldehyde, VOCs like acetone and terpenes are in many soaps and detergents, as well as cleaning and beauty products. In more extreme cases, long-term exposure to VOCs in your home can lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea, and respiratory problems.
How to Choose the Right Air Purifier for Your Home
While it’s important to note that an air purifier is not your answer to eliminating existing mold, it offers long-term relief for those with mold allergies. Once you have undergone the mold remediation process, the right air purifier is essential to keeping mold spores at a manageable level in your home. If you have extensive damage from flooding, you’ll need a heavy-duty air purifier to reduce the high concentration of spores in the air during the initial cleanup. In this case, we recommend using an industrial-grade purifier with a high flow rate. In order to fully destroy these mold spores, look for a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) purifier. A purifier like the Austin Air Healthmate is a solid option.
2. Dust and Dander
To defeat dust throughout your home, there are many options to consider. Since dust is present everywhere, you may want to consider a whole-home system for full coverage throughout your house. Our pros stand by products like the Air Scrubber Plus, which works in conjunction with your HVAC system to keep dust and dander at bay. If you’re focusing on one specific room or area or looking to improve the air in your apartment, consider a HEPA purifier for large rooms. One of the best options on the market for large rooms or an apartment is the Coway Airmega 400. For an abundance of dander, look for models like the Germguardian Elite purifier. Not only will this HEPA purifier pick up the largest quantity of allergens, but it will also help eliminate odors.
Another catch-22 when it comes to purifying your home air is dealing with dryness. Because most purifiers tackle pollutants that are byproducts of excessive moisture, many models aren’t equipped to remove pollutants from overly dry air. If you are facing this dilemma, your best option will be a 2-in-1 humidifier and purifier. An option that comes highly recommend is Sharp’s KC-860U Plasmacluter. Although this model is pricier than others, it traps pollutants by replicating nature’s cleaning process, rather than producing ozone. Simply put, this purifier produces positive and negative ions from water vapor in the air to clean and humidify your indoor air.
When choosing the right air purifier to remove VOCs, there are short-term and long-term options to consider. If you need to remove VOCs from a newly remodeled space, the best short-term option is a carbon filter purifier, like the Winix 5300-2 PlasmaWave. However, a word of caution: off-gassing can easily occur with carbon filters, so you must change them regularly. On the other hand, if you are interested in a more long-term and eco-friendly solution, we recommend investing in an air purifier with PECO (Photo Electrochemical Oxidation) technology, like the purifiers by Molekule. As the name suggests, Molekule air purifiers wipe out VOCs at the molecular level, thereby eliminating the risk of releasing VOCs back into the air.
Call in the Pros
Now that you know more about how to choose the right air purifier, it’s a good idea to weigh out your options with some professional guidance. The IAQ experts at Blue Flame are passionate about improving the quality of life for our customers. For help from Seattle’s most knowledgeable clean air pros, visit our site or give us a call at (206) 388-5667!