How to Know if Your Air Purifier is Working – Checking Air Flow

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Updated July 13, 2022

If you have recently purchased the best air purifier for the first time, you may be wondering how to know if your air purifier is working. Don’t worry. That’s where we come in. Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • It can be tricky to tell if your air purifier is doing its job of purifying the air and removing pollutants.
  • You can check to see if your air purifier is working by placing your ear or hand to the input fan area and the output fan area. If you feel the air push and pull, then it is working.
  • Checking on the filter is also a good idea, replacing any impacted air filter if necessary.
  • HEPA filters need to be replaced once every six months to a year, while activated carbon and electrostatic filters can be cleaned once every month.

How Air Purifiers Do Their Job

To understand if your air purifier is working correctly, it can be helpful to know how air purifiers work in the first place. Filter-based air purifiers use fans to draw in air, where they are run through a series of filters before being put back into your living area. Ionic air purifiers release negatively charged ions into the atmosphere that bond with pollutants, weighing them down and dragging them to the ground. UV air purifiers blast air particles with concentrated beams of ultraviolet light, neutralizing them. You can learn more about how air purifiers work at home, how air filters work, how commercial air purifiers work, and how bipolar air purifiers work by reading our info articles.

Insider Tip

Filter-based air purifiers use fans to draw in air, where they are run through a series of filters before being put back into your living area.

How to Check if Your Air Purifier is Working

Air purifiers are tricky because they are working best when you don’t notice anything. In other words, they excel at creating the absence of something (air pollutants) and that can be difficult to suss out. There are some tried and true steps to take to suss out if your air purifier is working. Here are just a few.

Test the Airflow

The easiest and quickest way to check on your nice air purifier for dust is simply to test the airflow. You can do this by checking out the input fans and output fans inside of the air purifier. Plug your air purifier into the power outlet and power it on its highest setting. Now approach the purifier and take a look at the various air vents. Place your ear to the input fan. Does it sound like and feel like the air is being drawn in? If so, great. Now, place your ear or hand beside the output fan area. Do you feel plenty of air being expunged? If you said yes to both of these questions, it is highly likely that your air purifier is working. The fans pull in and expunge air, so if they are doing their job it is likely the air purifier is also doing its job.

Check the Air Filters

Next, you will want to check the air filters. If the fans are operating efficiently but the air filter is clogged, your air purifier will not actually be doing anything. An air purifier is typically only as good as its air filters. Check the air filters by removing them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. How do they look? If they look relatively clean, then you should be good to go. Another way to tell is to check the “change filter” red indicator light. If it is illuminated, you will likely have to change or clean the filters. You just open the purifier, remove the filter, and insert the new one. If your filter is clogged up, your purifier is likely just pulling in dirty air and then pumping out that very same dirty air. Remove your filter according to instructions and take a look at it. If it is dirty and clogged, replace it or clean it. You will find that this solves several problems. HEPA filters need to be replaced every six months to one year, depending on usage. Other types of filters, such as electrostatic filters that are used in electromagnetic air purifiers, should be removed and cleaned every month. You should dispose of the air filter or purifier when it is not working.

Use Your Nose

One of the easiest ways to check if your air purifier works is by using your innate sense of smell. Smell around the room, checking out the air quality of your living space. If it smells good, it likely is good. And if you find that your air purifier isn’t working as it should, make sure you dispose of it. Alternatively, if it’s not damaged, you may just need to replace the ozone plates on the air purifier. Try that before trashing your device.

Insider Tip

The fans pull in and expunge air, so if they are doing their job it is likely the air purifier is also doing its job.

F.A.Q.

Someone in my household has a pet allergy. How can air purifiers help, and are they an effective solution?

Air purifiers can certainly help alleviate symptoms related to a pet allergy, but the results will differ depending on the severity of the allergy, the amount of pet dander in your home, and the overall power of the air purifier.  Modern air purifiers do a great job at eliminating common household allergens, including pet dander.


Do air purifiers help with smell? Do air purifiers remove smells?

Air purifiers are fantastic at eliminating and reducing smells, particularly HEPA and activated carbon air purifiers. That is one of an air purifier’s primary use cases. You may need to run the purifier continuously for a day or so to see results.


Are air purifiers good for asthma?

Air purifiers can help minimize asthma symptoms for some, but may not help for others. Feel free to experiment.



STAT: According to the US Environmental Protection Agency and CDC, “the levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels and, in some cases, these levels can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants.” (source)

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