How Air Purifiers Work for Removing Mold – The Surprising Truth!
Lately I’ve become aware of a real build-up of mold around the windows in the upstairs rooms of my home and a bit of an unpleasant, musty smell.
Opening the windows to let fresh air in every day doesn’t seem to have helped. So I decided to do a bit of research to see if I could get to the root of the problem and – more importantly – if there was something I could do to prevent it from happening again in the future.
One thing that has been suggested as an aid to tackling mold indoors is an air purifier. But what are they, and are they going to be any good at helping me solve my problem?!
It looks like they just might…
Basically, an air purifier is an electrical device which removes pollutants, such as mold spores, from the air inside your home by drawing that air in through a filter and trapping it.
There are many different types of air purifier on the market but in the case of mold it’s crucial to go for one which has a HEPA filter – be doubly sure it’s a genuine certified HEPA filter and not a ‘HEPA-like’ one.
That’s because genuine HEPA filters are subject to stringent standards of efficiency, and capture at least 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size.
Since mold spores are usually between 1-20 microns in size, a HEPA air purifier is an ideal choice over other types of air purifiers which may only be effective in removing larger sized particles from the air.
You’ll find that many air purifiers which have a HEPA filter also come with an activated carbon pre-filter which helps to remove nasty mold odours as they absorb molecules of gas – an extra bonus!
In order to be most efficient and effective, replace the HEPA filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The lifespan of the filters usually ranges between 6 months and 3 years.
Now for a little bit of basic science behind the air purifiers and the filters…
Mold colonies develop from mold spores which land on a damp surface. Once airborne spores are trapped inside the filter they can’t grow into colonies as there is not sufficient moisture for them to breed – the filter is a dry and sterile environment (often with a microbial coating).
But a little caveat to take note of…
Air purifiers are only effective in removing mold spores from the air. If, as in the case of my window frames, the mold is already embedded on a surface then this will need to be removed manually I’m afraid.
And air purifiers also don’t solve the underlying cause of mold – they are only effective in preventing new colonies from forming by removing new spores from the air. I think the cause of our mold growth has been the lack of an extractor fan in our upstairs bathroom – the moisture generated by several showers a day has proved too irresistible!
Having said that, even once we get our windows scrubbed and sorted, I think an air purifier will still prove to be a good investment as it’s nigh on impossible to eradicate all traces of mold, and of course new spores can be blown in from outside or become airborne if an infected surface area is disturbed.
There’s a great range to choose from on the market nowadays, they can clean the air in a room in a matter of minutes, use only a modest amount of energy, aren’t too noisy, plus they’re designed to be operated 24/7. I just wish I had heard about them before now and could have avoided a mammoth clear-up operation!