Do Whole House Air Purifiers Work?

In short, not really!

Whole House Air Purifier

Whole house air purifiers work by filtering the air from your central heating system/furnace system. The idea is that the device cleans the air as it passes through your house heating/cooling system and allows this clean air to pass into your home.

Many different types of filters are used in these systems such as:

  • HEPA
  • Electrostatic precipitators
  • Self-Charging electrostatic air filters
  • Ultra-violet light systems
  • Portable ozone-ionizer air purifiers

The problem however with these systems is that the whole concept is flawed. Here are some of the main reasons why house air purifiers are not recommended.

1. When Shared Across Your House The Power Is Low

small_Fan

Whilst these whole house blower systems have powerful airflow ratings (often 1000 cubic feet per minute) when this is shared across the whole house you get about the same power as a small fan when you check the airflow from your room duct.

2. Air From Your Central System Does Not Flow In An Equal Way

hot_air_Rises_cold_air_falls

All air will look for the a path that has least resistance. Cold air will always choose to go downwards whilst hot air will rise. This creates a problem similar to that of a river. Whilst in the area where the flow of the river is strong, all silt and small rocks pass through quickly and the water is clear. Where the flow of the river is slow such as the edge of a bend, the silt and rock get deposited.

With a whole house purifier there are areas where the flow of air is not strong such as in corners of rooms and behind obstacles. The lack of airflow in these areas will lead to a build up of dust and other problem particles.

It’s estimated that an average full house purifier will only clean about 30% of the air in the whole house.

3. Problem Using Real HEPA Filters

hepa-filter

Residential HVAC blowers do not have the power to successfully push air through a normal HEPA filter. A real HEPA filter will create a large amount of static pressure which means they can’t not be used in most whole house systems. Therefore nearly every HEPA based whole house cleaner uses a bypassing system to vent. This bypassing system means that you will be letting the fine particles pass through that cause allergies and other problem illnesses.

In some cases you can use a real HEPA filter but this requires a fan to be pushing the air through the system and will be required to run 24/7. This extra fan will pile on the dollars to your homes electricity bill.

Conclusion

If you still really want to use a whole house purifier then we recommend that you get your HVAC system including ducts professionally cleaned as well as upgrading the furnace filter. Depending on the age of your house, the costs can really start to balloon when you try to get a whole house air cleaner to work well.


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  1. [...] Whole house air cleaners are notoriously bad at cleaning your homes air. The problem comes down to air always following the path of least resistance. We wrote an article that explains this in more detail: Do Whole House Air Purifiers Work? [...]

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