How Does an Air Cleaner Work?

How an Air Cleaner Works
An air cleaner can improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your home by getting rid of harmful contaminants such as dust, chemicals, mold and odors. Besides a standard air cleaner, you could also get a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, UV light or air purifier if you want to remove bacteria and viruses from the air. To prevent you from breathing irritating particles, a cleaner sends fresh air back into the area so your lungs can be healthy and your family won't complain of odors. This guide will help you explore the benefits and features of an air filtration system so you can know if you need one.

How An Air Cleaner Works

Residential air cleaners have several filters that trap dirt and debris from the air and a fan that circulates clean air through the unit. The following components work together to provide fresh air for your living space:
  • Filters: The filters in an air cleaner are typically made from paper, fiberglass or mesh. To maintain your air cleaner's success in trapping particles, you should replace your air filter at least once a month, depending on how often you use it. HEPA filters have a three-part filtration system, which allows the unit to trap particles like pollen and other allergens in various sizes.
  • Fans: The fans within an air filtration system pull the air from a living area through the filters that can get rid of the harmful airborne particles within your indoor air. After filtering the air, the fan will send it back into the room. The fan will go through several cycles an hour, maintaining the air's health and safety in your home for as long as it's running.
How an Air Cleaner Works Some air cleaners use ultraviolet (UV) light in the purification process. Aside from getting rid of the allergens in the air, UV light filters destroy the bacteria and mold in the air. Even though UV light is dangerous for humans, these filters are safe to use because it doesn't expose you to UV radiation. Keep in mind that some strains of bacteria are UV-resistant, so you should read the package before investing in any products.

Contaminates an Air Cleaner Removes

An air cleaner can help improve your home's air quality, but you should also clean it often and limit your use of harmful products. Along with an air cleaner, you should also use a vacuum, dehumidifier or humidifier to control the allergens in your home. While most air purifiers claim to be 99.99% effective, keep in mind that the success rate of your air cleaner depends on the flow rate, location, installation and frequency of use. What an Air Cleaners Removes When paired with regular cleaning and disinfecting, air cleaners remove the following particles from the atmosphere of your living area:


This harmful contaminant can grow in areas of the home with excess moisture, such as the kitchen, bathroom or basement. You might also have it in an area if there's water damage from a pipe leak somewhere. Mildew can exist on surfaces or in the air, which can be harmful to your health. Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to get rid of the mold spores, and keep it away for good by reducing the humidity in your house and fixing any water damage.


If you've had a landscape fire in your area recently or someone in your house smokes, there may still be pollution in your living space — even after the fire or cigarettes are gone. High-quality purifiers can get rid of smoke, including the lingering odors it produces. To remedy the smell and presence of smoke in your house further, clean your home regularly and quit smoking.


Pet dander, dust mites and pollen can cause allergic reactions for you or your family members with symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or trouble breathing. You can use an air cleaner to trap airborne allergens and remove them from your living space. These allergens measure about 0.1 to 1.0 micrometers in diameter, and the filters within an air cleaner can trap particles that small. If you or your family suffer from allergies, you can also reduce these symptoms by regularly cleaning your house. Dust particles can rest on furniture, carpeting, bedding and walls. On top of buying an air filter, you should also regularly vacuum and clean your house to get rid of dust.

Air Toxins

Certain personal care or cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that could adversely affect your health when you inhale them. Even after you've finished using them, the odors and chemicals could linger in the air and travel through your lungs. An air filter will remove these toxins, along with the smells they produce. You can also use these products less to help maintain a healthy IAQ in your home.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Your air may have harmful gases from cigarettes or household solvents and fuel, which could result in lung issues. Air purifiers with activated carbon filters can get rid of VOCs and make the air clean to breathe again. If you're concerned about breathing in formaldehyde and other VOCs, read the fine print on your air cleaner to ensure it can get rid of them.

Bacteria and Viruses

If someone in your house is sick, you could contract their germs when you breathe the same air. Germicidal UV lamps can destroy airborne viruses and bacteria that can lead to severe sicknesses in your household. Since UV light destroys these contaminants at a cellular level, the bacteria won't multiply and spread in your house. To reduce the possibility of your family being sick, you should also wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant and wash your hands often.


You can contract air poisoning from coming into contact with radon, a radioactive gas found in soil and natural stone. If you have high radon levels in your home, you are at risk of developing lung cancer and other extreme symptoms. An air purifier with an activated carbon HEPA filter can remove radon gas in the air. Find out if radon is prevalent in your area, and contact your local radon program specialist if you suspect your family is at risk of radon poisoning.

The Benefits and Health Effects of an Air Cleaner

On average, we spend about 90% of our time indoors where the indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality. You may think that if you clean your house, the IAQ is fine, but that's not always the case. The air you breathe inside your living space could harm your health. If you want to improve your health, you could use an air cleaner to get rid of dust and other contaminants. Air purifiers come in various sizes and can fit in any room or living area so everyone can benefit from them. Here are some of the ways air cleaning technology can enhance the atmosphere for your living space: Hepa Filter Removal Study

Reduce Allergies

Studies show that HEPA filters can remove 70% of 0.3-micrometer particles and 95% of 1.0-micrometer particles, including pet dander, pollen and dust inside the house. Once these allergens aren't in your living space anymore, you can walk into a room without coughing, sneezing or getting an itchy throat. With clean air, you're less likely to take allergy medication or develop chronic sinus issues.

Get Rid of Tobacco Smoke

Secondhand smoke can be just as dangerous as smoking, especially for the young people in your home whose lungs are not yet fully developed. Long-term exposure to tobacco can result in lung cancer and heart disease, and in your elderly relatives, it can trigger dementia or emphysema. Plus, it can make your house smell unpleasant. Air purifiers with HEPA filters can reduce tobacco smoke in the house to provide a more comfortable environment in your living space.

Reduce Asthmatic Symptoms

Asthma is aggravating, and it can affect your lifestyle. Children could miss school, and adults could miss work from having asthmatic attacks. Your home should be a safe place for your family, not a place where your loved ones have to worry if they'll have trouble breathing. A HEPA filter can get rid of the air's irritants that could bother your lungs, lowering your risk of having an asthma attack.

Remove Exterior Pollutants

If you suffer from airborne allergies or respiratory conditions, you may want to stay in your house to protect yourself from outside contaminants. However, the airflow in your property from the window and door openings allows outdoor air to come inside. Besides exterior pollutants, the appliances in your house could also release carbon monoxide, causing headaches, nausea and dizziness. In extreme cases, unsafe levels of carbon monoxide could result in unconsciousness. A high-quality air purifier can pull the toxins out of the atmosphere, keeping your home a comfortable place for you and your family.

Lower Carbon Dioxide Levels

Whenever people and pets in your house exhale, they release carbon dioxide into the air. While having a bit of carbon dioxide in the house is all right, higher carbon dioxide levels can cause headaches, shortness of breath, drowsiness, nausea and an increased heart rate. Preventing air from leaving your home is energy efficient, but it also means you're more likely to have high carbon dioxide levels in your home. A HEPA filter can help reduce carbon dioxide so you can have more energy and breathe easier.

Protect the Sick and Elderly

If you have people in your household at a vulnerable age or with pre-existing medical conditions, the indoor air quality is essential to prevent aggravating medical symptoms. If your home has poor IAQ, your family is more likely to develop lung disease and emphysema, along with airborne diseases prevalent in the winter and spring. Your loved ones with weak immune systems tend to stay home and inside, which means they're breathing air that could be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Having an air purifier to clean your home's atmosphere could help protect your family from sickness so they can have a better quality of life.

Keep Your Lungs Healthier

Breathing in polluted air for 10 years causes the same type of lung damage as smoking a cigarette pack a day for 29 years. If you live in a large city, the air around you is more likely to have exhaust from factories, vehicles and commercial buildings. Purifying air through an air cleaner can help combat the adverse health effects of these contaminants. As a result, you may have more energy and live longer. You'll also be more productive during the day and sleep better at night.

Improve Sleep

The purpose of sleeping is to refresh your body so it functions properly. Before bed, you may like to take in a couple of deep breaths to relax and unwind after a stressful day. Air cleaners reduce the triggers of allergies and asthma that can make it difficult to fall asleep. In particular, HEPA filters can reduce stuffy nose and bronchial hyper-responsiveness that can wake you up in the middle of the night. By removing allergens and other contaminants from the air, you're also less likely to snore, which means your family may be able to sleep better.

Keep the Nursery Clean

Babies are vulnerable to respiratory ailments during their first few years. An air cleaner can help create a safe atmosphere for your baby's nursery. You can protect your child from headaches, allergies and respiratory illnesses and allow them to sleep and play comfortably.

Remove Foul Odors

Your home can develop unpleasant smells over time from garbage, pets, smoke, cooking and mold. You might try to mask the smell by burning candles or opening a window, but getting rid of the source of the scent is the only way to deal with it. Since air purifiers remove mold and smoke from the air, your home will smell better and the air will be easier to breathe.

Reduce the Amount of Dust to Clean

To get rid of the debris in your house, you need to vacuum often and wipe down your surfaces. However, no matter how many times you clean, you might notice there's still dust floating in the air. Air purifiers remove the dust mites in the air and send the clean air back into your home, so the task of dusting can be more manageable. Shop Air Cleaners

Shop for an Air Cleaner at Ingram's Water & Air

As you can see, air cleaners can help make your living space healthier. If you're looking for a way to improve the IAQ of your home, we have a wide selection of air cleaners available. You can also call us about our inventory of UV lamp filters, HEPA filtration systems and air purifiers. We offer free shipping, a competitive price match and lifetime tech support on our air cleaners and purifiers.
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