How to Tell If Air Purifier is Working

Among all air control devices in the house, air purifiers are the trickiest when it comes to telling whether it’s working or not. This is because they don’t make a lot of noise or give an immediate effect.

So how to tell if the air purifier is working? In today’s article, I’ll walk you through a complete guide that answers this question. So without further ado, let’s hop in!

Table of Contents

How Long Does it Take for Air Purifiers to Work?

As previously mentioned, air purifiers do not go into full effect immediately. Just like all other air ambiance control devices like air conditioning and heaters, they need some time for all the air in the vicinity to be cleared out.

Despite that, there isn’t a clear fixed amount of time that the air purifier needs in order to work. As a rule of thumb, you should expect your air purifier to filter out 90% or more of the air in the room within 30 to 180 minutes of operation.

As you can see, that’s a very wide range because it depends on a lot of factors. These factors include:

  • The size of the room and the height of the ceiling in question: the larger the dimensions of the room, the longer it takes the purifier to get the job done. You should start noticing the difference in less than 30 to 45 minutes. However, the full potential is usually reached after 3 to 3.5 hours for a standard room.
  • The ACH of the device: this one is defined as “Air Change Per Hour”, which stands for the rate or volume at which the air is being exchanged or cycled by the machine through that time. Typically, a machine with a higher ACH takes less time to fully purify a room.
  • The purification method and type of air purifier (ionizing or filters): Although ionizing and ozone air purifiers have some health drawbacks, they’re much faster than the ones that use physical high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
  • The position at which the air purifier is set: the furniture blocking the air cycle would make an air purifier take longer to go into full effect.
  • The presence of other ambiance control devices nearby: the presence of fans, humidifiers, or air conditioners in the vicinity of the air purifier can disrupt its air cycle
  • The power setting of the air purifier: purifiers come with various modes and power settings. In some cases, sleeping mode saves more energy but takes longer to fully purify the room.
  • The cleanliness and quality of the filters: cleaner and newer filters work more efficient than worn-out ones, so they filter the air faster
  • The size of pollutant particles that are being filtered: some allergens and particles are easily caught while some are highly elusive and need multiple stages of filtration to be finally caught.

Do You Leave the Air Purifier On All Day?

There is an ongoing debate on whether you should leave the air purifier on all day or run it intermittently. In this section, I’ll showcase both schools of thought as well as my personal view on that point:

On one side, there are a lot of people who believe that you should leave the air purifier on all the time because air is pervasive and you continuously need to purify the new air coming from the outside.

Many back up their claim with the fact that bringing outdoor air in while running the air conditioner or heating is considered a waste of energy.

So, in the case of air purifiers, it’s necessary that they stay on all the time to protect you from the pollutants in the air, especially if you suffer from allergies. Another reason why they believe leaving the air purifier on is a good idea is the lack of potential drawbacks of doing so.

On the other hand, there are others who believe that you don’t necessarily need to keep the appliance on all the time, especially if you don’t leave the windows open all the time, so you’ve already purified all the air inside.

While there are no drawbacks to running it all day, those who believe that using the machine intermittently are also concerned about the lifespan of the machine as well as the proposed safety hazards of leaving a machine running all the time. These concerns include:

  • The fire hazard from any damaged cords
  • The quick wearing out of the filters and having them replaced more frequently
  • The accumulation of ozone gas in ionizing purifiers.
  • The additional costs on the electricity bill

In my opinion, and based on these concerns, the ideal option here is to opt for a high quality air purifier that has an artificial intelligence system.

These purifiers are able to collect data about the current state of the house and decide whether to run the device or leave it on standby. This allows the air purifier to run all the time it should be while saving you all the additional costs and maintenance of running it unnecessarily.

How Much Does it Cost to Leave the Air Purifier On All Day?

Now that I’ve mentioned the cost of leaving the air purifier on all day, you might be interested in knowing the costs of doing so.

As a rule of thumb, most air purifiers on the market consume about 40 to 60 watts per hour. Taking 50 as an average, this means that it would consume 1.2 kilowatts a day.

The price of electricity varies slightly according to where you live in the United States, so here’s a chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to find the price of kilowatts in your area of residence.

However, the average price according to the chart is 12.69 cents for one kilowatt. By doing the maths, you’ll find that running the appliance all day every day would set you back about $55 a year or an additional $4.5 on your monthly bill.

How Long Should You Run an Air Purifier a Day?

As previously mentioned, the answer here depends on a variety of conditions, such as the level of air purity you’re after, your electricity bill budget, and how frequently you’re willing to do some maintenance.

Of course, if air quality and purity are your utmost priority, then going for 24 hours a day is an easy go.

Whether your air purifier is a smart device that works intermittently on its own or runs continuously, you should be prepared for a slight surge in your monthly electricity bill.

Alternatively, you can also operate the machine in a scheduled intermittent rate of about 12 hours every day, which can eventually cut on your maintenance cycle and running costs by up to half!

Ideally, the 12 hours where the machine is on should include that time you’re asleep and the hours you’re at home while leaving the purifier off when you leave the house. This should still be enough to run the air in your house to a filtering cycle more than 80 times a day!

Should I Sleep with the Air Purifier On?

The short answer here is simply “of course”, simply because we are still breathing when we’re asleep. The quality of the air in a room is continuously changing because of the pervasive nature of air.

Air purifiers work in a variety of ways. However, the safest and most common ones are the ones using physical filters to get rid of pollutants and particles in the air using HEPA filters.

For an air purifier to do its job, you need to run it continuously. This is because the air continuously accumulates pollutants that come from indoor items, such as pet dander and opened packages as well as outdoor items that leak inside even with good insulation.

For an air purifier to do its job properly, it needs to continuously run the air through cycles of continuous refinement of the air.

According to many pollution detectors, the air quality in the room resets to its original polluted state after 80 to 120 minutes after shutting off the air purifier. Yet, it takes a little while for the purifier to completely remove these pollutants.

Since sleeping is one of the most vital times of the day and is basically one-third of our entire day, you should definitely leave the purifier on for a healthier and more comfortable sleep.

How to Test an Air Purifier’s Airflow

By checking the airflow of the air purifier, you’d be able to tell if the air purifier is working. It’s one of the clearest and easiest signs of operation, despite not being the most accurate.

This one depends on the mechanical design of air purifiers. The majority of air purifiers have airflow control systems that constantly suck air in to run it through multiple filters then blow it out as clean air.

In most cases, these airflow control systems are simply fans. After connecting the air purifier and running it for a minute or two, simply put your hand near the output vent. If you feel a breeze of air there, the air purifier should be working

However, if the air purifier indicator light is on but the fans aren’t producing any air at all, the air purifier is mostly not working properly.

The sound produced by the fans is also a determiner of the quality and status of the built-in filters. The quieter the fans, the newer and better condition the HEPA filters are, though not necessarily the case at all times.

On the other hand, a louder fan means that the air is struggling to push out because the filters are clogged or worn out and need to be maintained or replaced.

Checking the Filter on Your Air Purifier

If your air purifier is not working properly, the filter is more likely than not the culprit behind it. This is because they get filled up with all kinds of nasty stuff as they filter on particles in the air, such as pollen, pet dander, dust, debris, and more.

Of course, this is a problem that’s easily solved by replacing those filters. Most manufacturers will recommend the time needed to replace your filters in their user manual, which will usually be between 3 to 6 months for regular air purity, and as little as 30 to 60 days for those suffering from asthma and allergies.

However, if you want to take a good look yourself, you should check the filters for signs of wear. This includes finding black spots on the filter, which usually indicates mold.

Also, discoloration and finding the filter too dirty or dusty means it’s time for a replacement even if it’s earlier than its set date.

In that case, keeping the filter will actually turn it into a source of pollution where some of these microscopic particles find their way through the filter and recontaminate the house.

Test the Air with an Air Quality Monitor

As previously mentioned, testing airflow is the easiest method but not the most efficient. This is because air could be blowing out without being filtered at all.

To test the functionality of the filters, you should use an air quality monitor with an accurate reading. Here’s how to use one:

  1. Start by testing the baseline reading of the room before turning the purifier on
  2. Close all doors and windows of the room, and start the purifier
  3. Allow the purifier to work for about 45 to 60 minutes, then rerun the test

If the quality of the air in the room improves, the air purifier is functioning properly. This device is also useful to find out how long the air purifier takes exactly to fully purify a room.

Wrap Up

With that said, you now know how to tell if the air purifier is working in various methods as well as testing the air quality while it’s on.

For a passive machine that produces an invisible effect, it’s quite essential to continuously run tests to see if the machine is running properly and doing its job as it’s intended, especially if you suffer from allergies and asthma.

With this guide, you should have all the information needed to measure the efficiency of your air purifier!

As you can see, air purifiers work continuously to keep your house free of contaminants and air pollutants. That’s why you typically need to keep them on for as long as you’re in the house.

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