It’s easy to assume that once you purchase an air purifier, all you need to do is switch it on and leave it to work. That may be true for a while, but there is a certain amount of maintenance required, as with any apparatus. Failing to do so will mean that your purifier will not work efficiently at removing the harmful particles in the air. This renders your expensive piece of equipment rather useless, and means that you’ve effectively wasted the cost of the equipment and the expense of running it. You’re also failing to protect yourself and anyone else in the building or home – thus defeating the object of purchasing an air purifier in the first place!
If you’ve gone to the expense of buying an air purifier, it’s because you’re worried about the quality of the air in your home or office – and rightly so. Air pollution has serious long-term implications, with a massive 7 million deaths in 2012 being attributed to this alone. It is linked to major causes of death like heart disease and cancer, as well as respiratory diseases that make life for the sufferer both difficult and unpleasant. Although we can’t purify the air outside without making massive changes in our lifestyles and society, we can improve the air we breathe in our own homes. which will go a long way towards helping to keep us in good health.
Keep your purifier well maintained, and it can do its job efficiently. It will also allow the unit to be as energy efficient as possible; in these times of high energy bills, that’s always a bonus! It’s a good idea to note down on a calendar when the filters need to be maintained. Each model will have different requirements as regards maintenance, so always read the user manual for your machine carefully. One thing common to all types of units – HEPA filters aside – is that the filters last no more than three months, so will need changing regularly.
A general maintenance guide:
Choose the right location for your air purifier. Unless the unit is designed to be placed against a wall, ensure that there is enough space around it for it to work. An air purifier needs airflow, so place the unit away from furniture.
Check the unit regularly. As well as changing the filters every few months, you should give them a more frequent visual inspection. Dust can build up and cause the unit to work less efficiently. The same goes for the exterior grills and panels. If the purifier is forced to work too hard, it will inevitably wear out or stop working ahead of time, and that will mean you are obliged to replace it before you should need to.
You might also have more than one type of filter to replace, so be sure to check all the different ones when carrying out maintenance checks.
Take the unit outside to clean it. This is more practical in a home with outside space than in an office. But if you can take it outside, it will avoid dust being transferred to the surfaces or air inside.
Clean washable filters. Not all units have these, but if yours does then washing the filters will help the unit work more efficiently. Do make sure that the filter is completely dry before putting it back; this is an electrical unit, after all! HEPA or carbon filters are not designed to be washed.
Check the filter light. Some units have a light that indicates when the filter needs replacing. Don’t waste time when you see this light up; delaying the replacement of the filter will prevent the purifier from working properly. If the model doesn’t have a replacement indicator, be sure to carry out maintenance when recommended.
Keep windows closed. As tempting as it may be to open the windows for some “fresh air”, keep them closed when your air purifier is operating. You’re making your purifier work harder if you have the windows open, and rather defeating the object of having one. Admittedly we do have a psychological preference for letting “fresh air” in, but it won’t help in this case.
Unplug the unit before cleaning it or changing the filters. This is a basic safety precaution when cleaning any electrical items, but it’s surprising how many people fail to observe it! Always disconnect the unit before changing the filters as well. Your air purifier should also be unplugged before moving it, or when it is not in use. There’s no point running the unit when nobody’s there to take advantage of the clean air, and you’ll be wasting money on electricity.
Clean the fans. Just as with any other type of fan, the fan in an air purifier tends to get clogged up with dust and fluff. This means that the unit fails to work at its best. Clean the fan using a small vacuum or soft brush, and a damp cloth.
Never place anything on top of the purifier. In a busy office, and even in the home, it’s tempting to use any available space to balance papers. Don’t use your purifier as a table. This could be a fire risk, and the unit won’t work at its most efficient.
Don’t use detergents to clean it. Harsh solvents, detergents, furniture polish and the like are not meant to be used on appliances like this. Use a soft brush or cloth instead. The cloth can be slightly damp, but avoid dripping any excess water on or into the unit.
You don’t need to have your air purifier serviced. Getting the most out of your unit is more a question of regular maintenance – including replacing the filters – and that doesn’t need to be performed by a qualified technician.