Thinking of buying an air purifier to help get rid of the wildfire smoke in your home? Believe it or not, not all air purification systems are equal. At Advanced Allergy & Asthma in Ogden, Utah, our skilled team of allergists recommends keeping these ten things in mind when buying an air purifier to help remove harmful smoke particles from the air in your home.
Air purifiers make it easy to reduce your exposure to allergens, but one size doesn’t fit all. Each system uses a different method to clean the air, so you start by looking for a high-quality air purifier rated to trap at least 99% of all air pollutants.
Many air purification systems say they help with smoke, but these typically refer to tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke contains formaldehyde, tar, and other chemicals, so these purifiers use special blends of carbon to remove these toxins from the air. But wildfire smoke consists of microscopic soot and fine ash particles 0.4 to 0.7 micron in size, so they require a different filtering technique.
To remove microscopic wildfire smoke from the air, you need a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration. Unlike “ozone air purifiers” and “iconic air purifiers,” HEPA filters use highly dense paper filtration systems to trap airborne contaminants. While there are several types of filters using the HEPA acronym, look for a “True HEPA Filter.” This certification means the filters can remove 99.97% of all microscopic particles at least 0.3 microns in size.
Sometimes there’s a different and cheaper option to an air purifier: upgrading your furnace and air conditioning filters. If you have central air and heating, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that medium-MERV filters could be nearly as effective as true HEPA filters when it comes to eliminating indoor airborne particles. However, upgrading to these filters can put a strain on your air handling system, so you should replace them when the fires are out.
To keep your air smoke-free, you’ll have to run it 24 hours a day, so you don't want a noisy system that keeps you up at night. When looking at potential air purifiers, be sure to check ratings for systems that pass tests for effective particle reduction while running at both high and low fan speeds.
It can be tempting to buy an air purifier designed for smaller rooms, but this won’t save you money. In general, experts advise against buying HEPA air purifiers for rooms smaller than 150 square feet. Instead, look for options to purify rooms 350 square feet or larger, which usually remove smoke more effectively.
The air quality in your home can be five times more polluted than the outdoors — and that doesn’t even factor in wildfire particles. Since we spend an average of 90% of our lives indoors, put your air purifier where you spend most of your time. For most Americans, this is the bedroom, though you can move your air purifier from room to room throughout the day.
When you bring your new air purifier home, we recommend running it on high for at least an hour. This helps clear the air in your room quickly by passing it through the filter 4-6 times. At that point, you can switch the machine to automatic or low to maintain the improved air quality. You should also run the air purifier on high after cleaning to remove any particles from the air that you may have stirred up.
Whether you already have an air purifier or have recently gone through a wildfire, be sure to replace your filters and pre-filters regularly. This will keep your air purifier functioning in peak condition and help you get the most out of your purification system.
Even when you have a HEPA air purification system, it’s crucial to keep your windows closed and your home clean. Fine smoke particles can drop from the air and settle on surfaces and floors. It’s also possible for these particles to settle on your skin, clothes, and bed. After spending time outdoors, we recommend bathing and changing into fresh clothes. You should also change your bedding more frequently than usual to help keep indoor allergens as low as possible.
For more tips on buying an air purifier to keep your allergy symptoms at bay, contact one of our convenient Ogden locations to schedule an appointment today.