What is the Best Air Purifier for Mold and Fungus?
Air purifiers address an ever-growing number of indoor air quality issues. One such issue that these machines address is mold and fungus. We aim to inform you on what the best air purifier is for mold and fungus.
The best air purifier for mold and fungus needs to not only collect the spores but neutralize them as well. The best air purifier for these moisture-related issues should have a HEPA filter, which does a great job at collecting the airborne particles. It should also have a UV sanitizer or a related sanitation system that will kill the spores.
Today, we hope to teach you what you ought to look for in an air purifier when you are hoping to address moisture-related issues in your home’s air. In addition to imparting air purifier knowledge, we hope to expand your horizons and share information of other types of machines on the market which will also help in mitigating the amount of mold, fungi, and mildew in your home.
How Can I Know if I Have a Mold Problem?
Before I dive into this article, I thought it would be helpful to quickly outline what you can look out for to see if you have or could have a problem with mold in your home. This list is not all-inclusive or definitive, but it could be a helpful guide.
Things that could indicate that you have a mold problem in your home:
- Vsible mold accumulation
- Damp and mildewy smell in your home
- High indoor humidity anywhere in your home
- Past water problems
- Water staining
- Discoloration on floor, walls, or ceiling
- Peeling, bubled, or cracked paint or wallpaper
Again, these aren’t the only things that could indicate that you could have a mold problem (except for the first two), but they can be telltale signs that mold is or could be a problem for you now or in the future.
Now, if you’re worried about mold, then you can buy a little test kit, which you can pick up on Amazon here, and/or you can buy a neat little sensor from a company called AirThings that tells you if your home is at risk of having a mold problem, and a lot of other things too. You can use this link to check out this sensor on AirThings’ site, and you’ll be able to pick it up for less than what you can get it on Amazon usually. But, if that isn’t enough for you you can use the code ape10-10off to get an additional ten percent off your purchase too! That’s a whole lot of savings there! But, if you’d rather, you can check out this same sensor on Amazon here too.
And, one final thing, if you know that you have mold in your home, then please be sure to clean it up! Professionals are available just about everywhere who can clean it, and you can clean it yourself too! Mold is super dangerous to live with, so save yourself and get rid of it! If you’d like to read up a bit on that, check out my piece on identifying and cleaning mold here: How Can I Check My House for Mold? | How Can I Clean Mold?
Mold, Fungi & Mildew
Mold, fungi, and mildew. Three annoying moisture-related issues are all hard to live with, and sometimes even harder to get rid of. Whether you are afraid of the onset of disease, or you are being adversely impacted by them, you likely know the importance of removing these issues.
With that being said, we do have to inform you of one all-important truth, no air purifier can actually fully destroy, say, a mold colony at its source. They may slow its growth, remove mold spores from the air, or even cause the mold to recede slightly, but it can’t fully eliminate your mold problem (unless you buy a very expensive unit).
So, is it worth it to even buy an air purifier if it won’t solve your problem? Yes, it actually is. If your home is prone to moisture issues (which is evident by mildew, mold, and fungi taking hold in the first place), then an air purifier can help you fend it off in the future. This means that you will be less likely to have to kill the mold again, which can save you a lot of money.
Air purifiers which are bought in order to help in your fight against mold, mildew, and fungi have to (at the very least) capture the particles in the air. What is preferable is a unit which neutralizes (kills) the spores before they are captured by your filter, where they can then take hold and grow.
Ideally, your air purifier will need a HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) filter. These filters are made to capture more particles from the air than your standard air filter. The US Department of Energy (DOE) laid out guidelines which ensures that air purifiers that claim to have HEPA filters will be able to capture 99.97 percent of the particles which pass through them. Just about every air purifier which claims to be good at combating mold, mildew, and fungi, will likely have a HEPA filter because of how well they work.
Check out our article on the importance of air filters, and the various types you will come across. In this article, we also list off the different levels of HEPA filters you’ll see (yes, there are different levels of HEPA filters).
Systems Which Sanitize The Air
In addition to a HEPA filter, your air purifier ought to have the means to sanitize the air coming into it. Systems which sanitize the air include:
How Does it Work? These systems use Ultraviolet (UV) light which kills everything that passes through it. The downside to this method is that the air your unit processes often travels too fast for the UV rays to kill everything, which limits its effectiveness.
Is it a Good Choice? A UV sanitizer is likely your best choice for several reasons. The big two are that this system is often cheaper to buy, and the other is that it is safer to use than other systems are.
-PECO (Photo Electrochemical Oxidation) systems
How Does it Work? These systems are the product of many years of scientific work, which was directed at perfecting the shortcomings of their predecessor. They, like UV sanitizers, use light, but their light serves to activate a catalytic reaction that destroys every particle which passes through it.
Is it a Good Choice? PECO systems are the safer improvement over their predecessor the PCO system, which was prone to create ozone. However, they are often costlier than UV sanitizers, which is why they are our second choice. However, they do work very well, and if you can afford the price, this system can be a great choice!
-PCO (Photocatalytic Oxidation) systems
How Does it Work? These units function a lot like PECO systems, but they were known to be rather inefficient, which is why they were largely replaced by PECO systems. They were also prone to create ozone, which is the other reason why they were replaced.
Is it a Good Choice? Because these units create ozone, we don’t recommend purchasing them. Ozone can be dangerous to your health and can irritate your respiratory system. Those with asthma are prone to suffer an asthma attack in the presence of ozone.
How Does it Work? There are two types of ionizers out there, and both of them create ions which attach themselves to particles in the air. These particles will then either fall to the ground, or be captured and collected by your machine, depending upon the system.
Is it a Good Choice? Ionizers, like PCO systems, can create ozone. This is because they charge the air that passes through it, which is exactly what it takes to make ozone. These systems shouldn’t be operated with people in the same room.
How Does it Work? Ozone generators make ozone out of the oxygen gas in the air by passing a charge through it. They can be very effective at killing mold and fungi, along with every other living thing. Ozone damages particles and objects which it comes into contact with because it is very reactive, which is why it is so effective at sanitizing the air.
Is it a Good Choice? As with ionizers and PCO systems, ozone generators create ozone. Yes, this is obvious, but it must be stated. Again, ozone can be hazardous to your health, which means these systems shouldn’t be used with people around.
Ideally, UV sanitizers and PECO systems are preferred over ionizers, ozone generators, and PCO systems for safety reasons. If you’re on a budget, we recommend buying an air purifier with a UV sanitizer, but if you can afford it, a PECO system can be worth the price.
When dealing with moisture-related issues, your best bet may actually be in purchasing an air dehumidifier with a built-in air purifier, better yet is to buy two separate units. A dehumidifier will help to make your home an inhospitable environment for mildew, mold, and fungi, in addition to countless other problems that arise with high humidity.
WHAT DO I NEED IN AN AIR PURIFIER TO HELP WITH MOLD?
There is a long list of required and recommended things for addressing moisture-related issues in your home. We’ve compiled a list of things we deem the most relevant to your needs.
-HEPA Filter Highly Recommended
This is just about required when you look at buying an air purifier for your mold issue. This will capture the mold spores (and countless other things) in the air, helping to prevent them from spreading further. There are different levels of HEPA filters (true-HEPA, HEPA-style, and HEPA-grade), true-HEPA filters are the best, but they will all do a pretty good job at air filtration.
-Sanitizer Highly Recommended
Whether you go out and buy a PECO or UV sanitizer at our recommendation, or not, you will need some form of sanitizer in place to kill the mold spores, pathogens, and fungi that enter your filter. Failure to do so will mean that these floating menaces can take hold of your filter, and grow there. Once this happens, your air purifier can actually become your enemy as it pumps even more spores and whatnot into the air!
-Pre-Filter Highly Recommended
Just about wherever you stick your air purifier, you will likely benefit greatly from having a unit with a pre-filter. These filters stop larger particles from clogging up your main filter (i.e. your HEPA filter), which means you’ll have to replace your main filter less often. Pre-filters are commonly washable grids, which means you won’t have to buy new ones, all you have to do is clean them off! Whether you have dust bunnies floating around, or actual bunnies making a mess, a pre-filter will help your main filter cope with large particles in the air.
-Dehumidifier is Recommended to limit the spread of moisture-related issues.
A dehumidifier removes ambient moisture from the air, reducing the overall humidity in the room you use it in. Why is that important? Mold thrives in environments with 50 percent or higher humidity, and dehumidifiers work to bring your home’s humidity below that. These units can be bought as an extra system on your air purifier. But it would be best to buy two separate units for the best possible results.
-Carbon Filter Optional – Recommended for use in your home.
Carbon filters, whether activated or impregnated, are great at odor mitigation. They won’t clean out any mold, but they can help to cut down on the odors in your home. These filters can be necessary if the smell of mold or mildew stays in the air.
There are a lot of things that are helpful when it comes to your war against mold in your home. You really ought to consider what the air purifier will be able to do on its own. And what you need. Do you need to prevent, or mitigate mold? Do you have other needs for your machine? Is your machine going to be in your basement? How big of a room are you putting the unit in? There is a lot to consider before making your purchase.
CAN AN AIR PURIFIER HELP WITH THE MOLD IN MY BASEMENT?
As we said before, you will need to have your mold issue addressed by a professional, as an air purifier cannot kill the mold at its source. That being said, an air purifier can help you at preventing mold from returning to, or spreading further in your basement.
If you have a real issue with ground moisture or humidity, then you should also invest in a dehumidifier. In fact, a dehumidifier may be all you need once you’ve had the mold dealt with professionally. Some regions need moisture regulation in their basements more than others. But basement moisture is a common issue that oftentimes goes unchecked, as few people venture into their crawlspace.
Want to read up more on basements and air quality? Check out one of these articles! Does My Basement Need a Dehumidifier? and What is the Best Basement Dehumidifier? I might add that radon is another issue that can be dealt with in your basement, so you can read up a bit on that in this article too! Do Air Purifiers Help with Radon Gas? | What’s the Number 1 Best Way to Deal with Radon Gas in My Home?
WHAT COVERAGE AREA DOES MY AIR PURIFIER NEED?
This depends upon the size of room you are putting your unit in. It is recommended to use a machine rated for your room’s square footage. Or else your air purifier won’t be as effective as it is supposed to be.
So, if your room is 200 square feet, then you need to get an air purifier that is rated for 200 square feet (this is about the size of your standard room). If your room is 185 square feet, then you will probably need to buy a unit rated for 200 square feet as well, as it is doubtful that there are any machines made for that exact size.
You didn’t hear it from us, but if you are truly on a tight budget, and you don’t care to have your home’s air meet the exact air quality an air purifier boasts, but you would like cleaner air, then you can buy a unit rated for a smaller area. But, it won’t give you the cleanest possible air. And you may end up needing to replace your filters more often. Don’t skimp too much. Don’t buy an air purifier rated for 200 sq/ft and put in a 500 sq/ft room. But you can fudge your numbers a little bit and likely not notice too big of a difference.
Want to keep reading about mold? Check out this other article that I wrote! How Can I Check My House for Mold? | How Can I Clean Mold?
Frequently Asked Questions
What Room Should I Put my Air Purifier in?
It is widely recommended to put your air purifier in your home office, living room, or bedroom. It all depends on where you spend the most of your time when you are at home. After all, what would the point be in cleaning the air in your basement, if you never go down there? Just consider where you would be able to enjoy the benefits of your new air purifying unit the most!
What is an Ozone Generating Air Purifier?
These machines work like normal air purifiers, by with one major caveat, they also release a gas known as ozone. Small amounts of ozone are not dangerous. The clean smell you smell during a lightning storm is actually ozone! Air cleaners with ozone generators are great for sterilizing a room, but you had best keep the room vacated.
Do Air Purifiers Work?
Yes, and depending on the make and model that you are considering, they work very well! Air purifiers are great for dust control. Purifiers can combat your seasonal allergies. No, air purifiers won’t cure you of allergies. They seemingly cure you while you are home, since all of your allergens have been pulled out of the air.
Do Air Purifiers Help with Allergies?
YES! Many people who buy air purifiers do so simply to fight off their allergies. These miraculous little machines grant people who are plagued with allergies a place of refuge. Here they can finally recuperate after particularly nasty times. It is recommended that you pay a little extra and buy an air purifier with a HEPA filter if you are buying one to combat your allergies.
What Are Charcoal Filters?
Charcoal filters are one and the same as carbon filters, these phrases are used interchangeably. These filters mainly come in two different types activated and impregnated carbon. Impregnated does everything activated carbon does, but it also targets VOCs, which can be dangerous.
How Do I Address my Mold Problem?
It is recommended to hire a professional to deal with mold. Simply because the spores can be hazardous to your health. If you are hard-set on cleaning it yourself, the EPA has a guide for cleaning mold called “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings Guide”, which can be of great help to you.