Air Purifier For Basement
Basements have unique air quality issues. Many basements do not have an effective moisture or vapor barrier, which can lead to mold growth. Gas-powered heaters, furnaces, or water heaters can release soot or other combustion products into the air in the basement. Paints, solvents, and cleaning solutions stored in a basement can release volatile organic compounds. Combined with the reduced airflow typical of many basements, and there is a huge potential for greatly reduced air quality. An air purifier for a basement can improve the air quality of a basement.
The damp, musty smell of a basement is caused by the growth of microorganisms,1 which thrive in moist conditions. While the smell itself is not necessarily a health concern, it may point towards potentially larger issues with mold growth. Aspergillus molds that grow well in moist environments can be a serious health hazard.2 Reducing humidity in a basement with a dehumidifier or by improving the moisture or vapor barrier system can reduce the amount of airborne mold spores.
In order to remove the actual spores and mold particles in the air, an air purifier is required. An air purifier for a basement that includes a HEPA filter or ULPA filter can remove mold spores from the air. HEPA filters are able to remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter,3 more than sufficient to remove mold spores from the air.4 The musty smell can be reduced with an activated carbon filter, an effective air purifier for odors.
The chemicals that many people keep in their basements can also be removed with an activated carbon filter. Xylene, formaldehyde, and other volatile organic compounds cannot be removed with an inert filter, and an air purifier for chemical reduction can use an activated carbon filter to reduce airborne VOCs.
Due to the high amount of moisture in a basement, it is important to make sure an air purifier for a basement is properly maintained. If moisture condenses on the filter, mold or bacteria can flourish on the actual air purifier filter. Should the microorganisms grow through the filter, they can actually be released into the air during normal operation of the filter. Replacement air filters should be kept on hand so that filters can be exchanged if need be.
Air purifiers for basements need to be able to process the volume of air in the basement, so when selecting a model to use, be sure to follow recommended manufacturer size guidelines. If the size recommendations are given in square footage, check the fine print to see what height ceilings are used for the calculations. If your basement has lower ceilings than is used for the recommended area, you may be able to use a smaller model to treat the volume of air in the basement.
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Yes, air purifiers can operate in basements. Make sure that the air purifier is large enough for the volume of air in the basement that needs to be treated. Keep in mind that if the basement is damp or has high humidity, an air purifier on its own will not necessarily reduce the moisture level.
If the air purifier is a free-standing unit that can be used in any room, then placing it near your HVAC system will not improve the air in the rest of the house. HVAC systems draw air to be heated, cooled, dehumidifier, or otherwise treated through an intake. The intake should not be7 located in the basement, even if the heater, cooler, or dehumidifier is located in the basement. An air filtration system may be integrated into the air stream of the HVAC system; however, this will not be a free-standing unit.
Air purifiers are effective at capturing mold or mildew spores that are airborne, but an air purifier for a basement won’t remove mold or mildew that is growing on a surface. Removal of existing mold or mildew that is growing on materials in a basement may require chemical treatments or even the disposal of the material that the mold or mildew has infested.6
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Master Air Purifier Sources:
Air quality sources: Air purification/filtration process sources: HEPA, UPLA, and MERV filter sources:
Air quality sources:https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.5b01236
Air purification/filtration process sources:https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/air-purifiers/buying-guide/index.htm
HEPA, UPLA, and MERV filter sources:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16517004/
- https://www.fema.gov/pdf/rebuild/recover/fema_mold_anding unitbrochure_english.pdf