Can Air Purifiers Kill Viruses in My Home’s Air?

During the winter months of the year, more viruses tend to circulate through people. Spending more time in your Glendale, AZ, home provides a great opportunity for viruses to spread from one person to another in your household. If you’re worried about spreading viruses that cause the common cold, influenza, COVID-19 or other illnesses, consider an air purification system. Along with practicing good hygiene, regular cleaning and enhanced ventilation, an air purification system can help get rid of viruses, bacteria and allergens in your home’s air.

Types of Air Purifiers

There are two types of air purifiers you can get for your home. The first type is portable. A portable air purifier is a good option for a small space. For example, if you have a finished apartment above your garage, and it’s not connected to your home’s primary heating and cooling system, a portable air purifier will filter contaminants from the air. They’re ideal for spaces that measure less than 400 square feet. You’ll have to change their filters regularly and clean them in order to maintain their effectiveness.

If you need air purification for a larger area or your entire home, you’ll need a whole-home air purifying system. Whole-home air purifiers work with your heating and cooling system. While heating and cooling systems have an air filter, they don’t trap every germ or particle that passes through them. An air purifier cleanses and sanitizes the air after it passes through the primary filter of your heating and cooling system.

Technology Used in Air Purification Systems

There are five types of technology that can be used in portable and whole-home air purifiers. Some products combine two or more of these in order to deliver optimal results. The first type of technology is high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration. HEPA filters trap 99.97% of particles measuring 0.3 microns or larger in size. This accounts for most viruses. The particles are trapped in the filter, but not killed. If you were to touch the dirty filter, then touch your face, you could potentially infect yourself with the viruses.

Another type of technology that can be used in an air purification system is ion generation. These systems generate equal numbers of positively and negatively charged ions. Those ions interact with particles in your home’s air. They bond to the particles, making the particles heavier and larger. Those particles can then be trapped by your home’s air filter. A problem with ion-generating air purifiers is that they usually create ozone. People with heart or lung disease or breathing disorders may be negatively affected by high ozone levels.

Ozone generation is another type of technology used in air purifiers. The ozone bonds to particles and disrupts their outer coating or membrane. Air purifiers that use ozone generation can inactivate bacteria and viruses that cause illnesses.

Electrostatic air purifiers use charged plates to trap particles. One plate has a positive charge, and the other has a negative charge. Fiberglass filter media is placed between the two plates. The air blower pushes air through the filter media, and the charged particles stick to one of the plates. These air purifiers need regular cleaning in order to keep attracting the charged particles.

The best type of air purifier to kill viruses is one that uses UV-C technology. UV-C is a type of ultraviolet light. This wavelength can destroy the outer membrane of viruses, bacteria, allergens and other biological materials. A UV-C air purifier consists of a special lamp that’s installed within your home’s air ducts or air handler. Its light shines on the coils of the heating and cooling system, which kills any biological materials that would otherwise grow on the mechanical parts. The light from the lamp also shines into the ducts. As the air handler pushes air through the beam of light, any particles in the air are effectively killed, inactivated or broken apart by the UV-C energy.

How to Choose an Air Purifier for Your Home

When considering which air purifier to purchase, you’ll need to factor the airflow rate, maintenance requirements and effectiveness at killing viruses. UV-C is the only proven method to kill all viruses. Other purifiers may just trap the viruses. The larger your home, the faster the airflow rate you’ll need in an air purifier.

How UV-C Air Purification Systems Kill Viruses

The wavelength of UV-C energy penetrates into the outer membrane of a virus. Without the intact outer membrane, a virus can’t infect a cell. If the outer membrane of a virus is like a key, and the cell is a lock, the UV-C effectively breaks the key. The virus then has no key to insert into the cell’s lock, so it has no way to infect any cell in the body.

Who Should Consider a UV-C Air Purifier

All households would benefit from a UV-C air purification system. If your household includes a baby, elderly person or individual with a chronic breathing disorder, it’s especially important to protect them from respiratory infections and other illnesses. If anyone in your household has allergies or asthma, the UV-C air purifier will destroy bacteria, viruses and other particles that worsen their symptoms.

Using HEPA Filters to Kill Viruses

In addition to UV-C air purifiers, you can also use HEPA filters to trap germs. Choose a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Use the vacuum to clean upholstery and carpeting where virus-laden respiratory droplets may land. HEPA filters aren’t recommended for residential heating and cooling systems because they slow the airflow rate and can overwork the air handler.

Why Changing Your Air Filter Regularly Helps Get Rid of Viruses

Your heating and air conditioning system’s air filter should have a minimum efficiency reported value (MERV) rating of at least 13. This type of filter can trap a lot of bacteria, such as the streptococcus that causes strep throat and some forms of bacterial pneumonia. A clean filter does a better job of trapping dust, pet dander, bacteria and other particles that can infiltrate the lungs and cause inflammation. Healthier lungs do a better job at fighting off viruses.

The Importance of Fresh Air and Ventilation for Virus Removal

Ventilation is also important for reducing the amount of viruses circulating in your home’s air. Bringing some fresh air into your home dilutes the stale air that keeps circulating. If someone in your home is coughing or sneezing a lot, opening their bedroom window will help with removing their respiratory droplets. Be sure to use exhaust fans when bathing, cooking or cleaning. The exhaust fans will remove vapors, odors and particles that can interfere with breathing. You can increase ventilation and use a UV-C air purifier at the same time in order to get rid of infectious viruses in your home.

At Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, we’re the trusted providers of air purifiers in Glendale. Homeowners also turn to us for reliable electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair, replacement and installation services. Our insulation, air filters and duct repairs help keep your home healthy and comfortable. To learn more about how air purifiers remove viruses and other germs in your home’s air, get in touch with us at Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical today.