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Air scrubbers

How Do Air Scrubbers Work? Everything You Need To Know

Air scrubbers have become very popular over the past few years. But how do air scrubbers work? Are they legit? In this post, we’ll explore these questions to help you understand whether you could benefit from using one of these devices in your home.

What Are Air Scrubbers?

Green airborne particles used to portray the concept "how do air scrubbers work?"

An air scrubber is a piece of HVAC equipment that removes contaminants from the air inside your home. You can think of it as a supercharged air purifier. While you’d typically use a purifier to treat a single room, a scrubber treats your entire house.

Types of Air Scrubbers

There are two main types of air scrubbers on the market.

Portable Air Scrubbers

Portable air scrubbers are most commonly used during renovations or other large-scale indoor projects that might spew a lot of contaminants into the air. They’re not designed to be permanent fixtures in your home, which is why you usually see them marketed as daily or weekly rentals.

You can also tell portable air scrubbers aren’t meant to be permanent based on their appearance. These are typically large industrial-looking units designed to be paired with exhaust tubes that lead the contaminated air outdoors.

Integrated Air Scrubbers

Integrated air scrubbers are the kind that we install as part of our air conditioner service in Phoenix. These small units connect directly to your home’s HVAC system and work constantly in the background to purify your air. 

Unless you’re doing a major renovation at home, this is the type of air scrubber you need. A heavy duty portable unit is overkill in most cases.

How Do Air Scrubbers Work?

Air scrubbers draw air from your home and pass it through a series of filters. These systems (which include PCO photacatalytic purifiers) actually kill the harmful pathogens, unlike filters that simply trap them.

It doesn’t stop there, though. Air scrubbers also release ionized oxidizers that flow throughout your home. These oxidizers are negatively charged, meaning they attract positive ions like odors, smoke, and more.

The ions act like those anthropomorphic soap suds you see in the Scrubbing Bubbles commercials, effectively ‘scrubbing’ your air.

What Do Air Scrubbers Do?

Now, you may be wondering what air scrubbers actually remove from your home. Do air scrubbers work for mold, for example?

The answer is yes. Air scrubbers remove a variety of pathogens and contaminants, including mold. They can also remove allergens like dust mites, pollen, and mold spores. According to Honiron, air scrubbers are capable of removing 99% of these airborne particles.

Can Air Scrubbers Remove Coronavirus Particles?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is one of the reasons air scrubbers have gotten so popular recently. There’s a lot of concern about sanitation in general. Since many experts believe that COVID-19 is airborne, people are taking their air quality very seriously.

To be clear, however, it’s uncertain whether air scrubbers will actually protect you from COVID-19 if, say, someone with the disease sneezes in your home and the particles remain airborne.

COVID-19 is simply too new for scientists to have a solid understanding of what kills it and what doesn’t.

Here’s what we do know. Do air scrubbers work for mold and other airborne contaminants? Yes, they work very well. While one might assume effectiveness in this regard would carry over to other types of airbone pathogens, the truth is that we simply don’t know right now.

Are Air Scrubbers Worth It?

COVID-19 aside, an air scrubber is a valuable addition to your HVAC setup for several reasons. Let’s explore those now.

Indoor Air Quality In America Is Horrendous

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, concentrations of pollutants is often 2-5x higher indoors than outdoors. That’s pretty staggering when you consider the levels of smog and pollution that plague most American cities.

An air scrubber (along with regularly cleaning your air conditioner) can help.

Air Scrubbers Are More Effective Than Most Filtration Systems

As mentioned earlier, conventional air purifiers only work in single rooms. An air scrubber is a much more economical way of purifying your entire house. The device connects directly to your HVAC system and cleans air all throughout your home. You’ll forget it’s even there!

An Air Scrubber May Increase Your Home’s Resale Value

You never know who will be interested in buying your home down the line. It could be someone with respiratory problems. Having an air scrubber installed is an asset in such situations. You’ll have taken care of a major concern for them before they even move in!

You Might Save On Your Electricity Bill With An Air Scrubber

If you find yourself constantly running exhaust fans in your kitchen to get rid of lingering odors, you might find it much more useful to simply install an air scrubber. The scrubber will do most of the work behind the scenes.

How Many Air Scrubbers Do I Need?

This is another common question we hear from people. For day-to-day residential purposes, a single Air Scrubber Plus (like the ones we sell) should be sufficient.

If you’re using air scrubbers for a construction project, howeer, you’ll need to do some calculations.

There’s a metric known as air changes per hour (ACH) that describes how many times an enclosed space’s air gets filtered per hour. Different applications have different ACH requirements. 

For residential purposes, experts generally recommend a minimum of 6 ACH. Clearing critical contamination levels in large facilities like hospitals often requires an ACH of 12.

To determine how many air scrubbers you need, you’ll have to take this measurement and compare it to each unit’s cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating. Here’s the formula:

Room volume in cubic feet multiplied by your required ACH divided by 60.

The resulting number tells you how much CFM your project requires. In some cases, you’ll be able to achieve this through a single air scrubber but you may need to combine several.

This isn’t a process to be taken lightly. 

Depending on your project, getting this calculation right could mean the difference between life and death. We’re only providing you this information to give you a rough idea of how these calculations are made. If you’re unsure, ask the company you’re buying or renting your scrubber from for guidance.

Just like an over or under-sized unit is a common air conditioner problem, using too many or too few air scrubbers can be disastrous.

What Do Air Scrubbers Do? Conclusion

Air scrubbers purify your home’s air in two stages. First, the system passes your air through a series of filters that neutralize contaminants and pathogens. Next, the system releases ionized oxidants that latch themselves onto contaminants throughout your home.

This method of filtration has become very popular as people become more conscious of indoor air quality and sanitation in general. 

If you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area and are interested in having one of these systems installed, feel free to give us a call at American Home Water and Air. We’ve been installing HVAC and water systems in the area for more than 30 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does an air scrubber work?

An air scrubber pulls contaminants from the air in one of two ways depending on the type of unit. Portable industrial air scrubbers draw air in and pass it through a series of filters that trap contaminants. Integrated air scrubbers do filter your air in a similar manner but they also release ions that attach themselves to harmful particles, neutralizing them.

What is an air scrubber used for?

Many people are familiar with the air scrubbers used to remove dust and chemicals from construction sites. Integrated air scrubbers, on the other hand, are meant for everyday use as part of your HVAC system. They can help combat the notoriously bad air quality found in many parts of the United States.

What is the difference between an air purifier and an air scrubber?

Air purifiers target airborne particles while scrubbers are capable of attacking contaminants on surfaces as well.

Do air scrubbers kill mold?

Air scrubbers can kill mold. Depending on how bad your mold issue is, however, you may want to take more rigorous measures. Contact an HVAC professional for more information.

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