In damp, humid conditions, mold can thrive by spreading their spores through the air. Although mold growth is beneficial in the creation of antibiotics and decomposition of plant matter, this fungus has no place indoors. If left unchecked, mold can wreak havoc on your home and your health.
Although the first step in mold remediation is addressing the source of the problem, you also have to keep mold spores out of the air. The best way to get rid of spores is by using an air purifier.
|≤ 600 ft²||≤ 200 ft²||≤ 390 ft²|
|16 x 8.13 x 25.13 in||10.25 x 7 x 21.5 in||18.03 x 18.03 x 19.57 in|
|12.5 pounds||10.9 pounds||21 pounds|
How Do Air Purifiers Control Mold Growth?
Air purifiers are appliances designed to significantly decrease the number of harmful particles in the air. To accomplish this feat, the purifier draws in surrounding air with a powerful fan. As soon as dirty air enters the inlet, that air is circulated through the purifier.
Once the air travels through a particle-trapping filter, it’s released from the air purifier’s outlet and sent back into the room while the mold spores and other contaminants that were in the air remain within the pleats of the filter.
In some air purifiers, there are other technologies such as a UV-C light that destroys the trapped spores or an ionizer to help collect microscopic particles.
What Type of Filter Is in an Air Purifier?
No matter the size or brand of the air purifier, there is at least one filter inside of it. However, a quality air purifier won’t have a standard filter. Instead, it will contain a true high efficiency particulate arrestance, or HEPA, filter.
With its ability to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns with a 99.97 percent efficiency rate, a true HEPA filter can easily snare mold spores, which range in size from 1 micron to 30 microns.
However, don’t be fooled by manufacturers that put a HEPA type filter in place of a true HEPA filter to save a few bucks. These substandard filters are not as efficient. In fact, their efficiency rate generally ranges from 85 percent to 90 percent, and they just can’t trap small particles like true HEPA filter can.
How Can One Filter Get Rid of a Mold Problem?
Sure, one well-made true HEPA filter can keep mold spores out of the air, so the spores can’t act as a catalyst for new mold growth. However, it won’t take long for that filter to become filthy, and the air purifier will have to work extra hard to do its job when it only has one filter, leading to premature motor burnout or the need for an energy-sucking, high-wattage motor to compensate.
To combat these issues, manufacturers often include a pre-filter. A pre-filter sits on top of the HEPA filter to catch large particles that can reduce a HEPA filter’s efficiency, such as dust and hair. Since a pre-filter is able to trap particles as small as 5 to 10 microns, it will grab some mold spores too. In turn, the HEPA filter lasts longer, and the purifier works better.
The best air purifier manufacturers don’t stop with a two-stage filtration system. They also add an activated carbon filter into the mix, which sits in between the HEPA filter and pre-filter. A carbon filter takes care of the one problem that even the most efficient true HEPA filter cannot – bad odors.
As mold breaks down organic matter and grows in moist areas, it gives off volatile organic compounds. Often, it’s the mold-related VOCs that cause that telltale musty smell.
Luckily, carbon filters are able to eliminate this odor when the VOCs adhere to the filter and dissolve. This process is known as adsorption.
Can Mold Spores Escape From the Purifier?
Whether or not mold spores can escape from the purifier depends on how well the air purifier’s filtration system is sealed.
When the seal around the filter is tight, air can’t escape before it goes through the filtration process, and dirty air is unable to make its way into the purifier to contaminant the newly cleaned air.
Manufacturers who build a sealed air purifier are proud of this feature, so the box or product description will clearly state that the purifier is sealed.
Why Do Some Air Purifiers Have a UV Lamp?
UV-C light is an excellent tool for killing bacteria, viruses and mold by rendering these toxins ineffective at the cellular level.
In an air purifier, the UV-C lamp is usually directed at the HEPA filter, so it can destroy the germs trapped in the filter. For a substance like a mold spore, the light must be in direct contact with the spore for over 20 minutes to break down the spore’s DNA.
When the spore is stuck in the filter, it can’t float out of the light’s direct path. Some air purifiers also contain a titanium dioxide plate that works in conjunction with the UV-C light to oxidize VOCs in a process called photocatalytic oxidation. While a UV-C lamp is a great helper, the HEPA filter is still the number one technology used for mold and germ eradication.
What Is an Ionizer?
Some air purifiers contain an ionizer. By channeling the power of high voltage to electrically charge multiple metal needles, an ionizer creates negative ions. These ions are released into the air and attach to airborne pollutants, which makes the particles too heavy to remain in the air, so you won’t inhale them.
Often, the appliance has an electrostatic plate or rod to collect these contaminants. While unnecessary for mold reduction, an ionizer is a nice bonus feature to have in an air purifier.
What Are Other Important Features to Have in an Air Purifier?
Without a doubt, the type of HEPA filter in an air purifier is crucial to the purifier’s performance. Despite its importance, there is more to a great mold-killing air purifier than its filter. Aspects like the purifier’s room capacity, warranty and asthma-and-allergy certification are also significant in terms of efficiency.
It’s crucial that you pay attention to the air purifier’s room capacity. The coverage area of the purifier you use should closely match the square feet of the room where you intend to operate the appliance. If the coverage area is too small for the room’s size, the air purifier won’t be able to filter all the air in the room.
If the ceiling in the room is higher than the standard 8 feet, make sure you choose an air purifier with a larger coverage area than the room’s actual square footage because most manufacturers measure the purifier’s capacity based on a room with an 8-foot ceiling.
A warranty gives you peace of mind. However, a warranty means much more than financial protection against mishaps and malfunctions. The length of the warranty period tells you how much confidence the manufacturer has in their product.
A manufacturer won’t slap a 10-year warranty on a product that they know will only last for about 5 years; if the warranty period is too long, they risk losing money on repairs and replacements. However, even low-quality air purifiers may have 1 year’s worth of warranty coverage because manufacturers know that consumers place a lot of value on a warranty, and they are more likely to buy a product with a warranty as opposed to a similar product without one.
During your air purifier search, look for a warranty period that’s longer than 1 year. There are some air purifiers with a 3-year, 5-year or even a lifetime warranty.
Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification
Mold is a serious allergy and asthma trigger. To help people who suffer from allergies and asthma, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America developed a certification program. This program tests products like air purifiers, vacuum cleaners and other consumer goods to make sure they meet the organization’s standards for reducing a person’s likelihood of being exposed to allergens.
If it passes their rigorous testing, the product is marked as asthma & allergy friendly. This certification is a huge deal for manufacturers because it’s an attractive feature that sells, and for good reason. You will be able to easily tell whether or not an air purifier is certified as asthma & allergy friendly because the box will have a unique seal from the AAFA, and the seller will state this feature in the product description.
Top 5 Air Purifiers for Mold 2018
5) Alen Paralda HEPA Dual Airflow Tower Air Purifier Review
Do you need to remedy a mold situation in a large bedroom or average-size living room? The Alen Paralda Air Purifier can help. This 28-inch tower can cover up to 500 square feet of space.
Since it weighs 15 pounds, it’s ideal for placement on the floor. When you buy this air purifier, you’ll even get a lifetime warranty as long as you register your new purifier through Alen.
Unique to this air purifier is its dual ventilation system. With two inlets and two outlets, the Paralda provides excellent performance. From the corresponding smooth-touch button, you can select from one of four fan speeds. On its highest speed, the air purifier boasts a 117-cubic-foot-per-minute airflow.
However, it’s super quiet, producing noise in a decibel range from 37.5 to 60. Plus, it only consumes 56 watts of electricity.
This purifier comes with Alen’s exclusive HEPA-silver filter, which traps 99 percent of germs and mold spores as small as 0.3 microns. On the top of the purifier, there is an indicator light next to the digital display that flashes when the filter must be replaced.
Typically, this filter lasts for 6 months, so it’s a nominal biannual expense. In addition to this efficient HEPA filter, there is an optional ionizer function you can activate with the push of a button.
4) Levoit LV-PUR131 Air Purifier With True HEPA Filter) Review
With its room capacity of 322 square feet, the Levoit LV-PUR131 Air Purifier can be used on the floor in most bedrooms or in-home offices. This 11.2-pound purifier features a wide outlet that spans the purifier’s the 14.5-inch-wide top for maximum air output.
For the LV-PUR131, Levoit offers warranty coverage for 2 years. Plus, you get technical support for the life of the purifier.
Behind the air purifier’s back panel, there are three filters. The one that’s closest to the inlet is a pre-filter, which traps hair, dust and pollen. The filter that’s furthest from the outlet is an activated carbon filter that eliminates the musty odor of mold. Sandwiched in between these two filters is a true HEPA filter.
The HEPA filter captures 99.97 percent of airborne contaminants, including mold spores. Like the Alen purifier at number five, this Levoit air purifier only requires a twice-yearly filter change.
From the touch panel, you can change the three-speed fan. Plus, you can set a timer to run the purifier for up to 12 hours. If you’re a light sleeper, the purifier’s quiet mode turns the fan to its lowest speed, so you’ll barely be able to hear it.
For times when you are too busy to stay on top of the settings, the integrated particle sensor monitors the air quality, and auto mode puts the fan speed in the purifier’s control.
3) Honeywell 50250-S True HEPA Air Purifier Review
If a simple, reliable air purifier is what you want, the Honeywell 50250-S True HEPA Air Purifier is a great choice. This 21-pound cylindrical air purifier has a sealed filtration system, so mold spores can’t infiltrate or escape the purifier.
It’s even equipped with an integrated carrying handle to help you tote the 18-inch-wide air purifier, and you get a 5-year warranty from Honeywell.
The air purifier has an excellent set of filters. In this model, the pre-filter contains activated carbon, so it not only destroys malodorous smells but also traps large particles. There is also a long-lasting true HEPA filter.
To tell you when each filter needs to be changed, there is a separate indicator light for the pre-filter and the HEPA filter. While the pre-filter must be changed every 3 months, the HEPA filter stays efficient for up to 5 years if you regularly vacuum the pleats.
As you set the purifier to one of its three fan speeds from the turn dial, the air in the room circulates through an inlet and outlet that runs around the entire circumference of the appliance. In rooms as large as 390 square feet, the purifier can filter all the air in the space five times in 1 hour.
Since it’s so effective at reducing allergens like mold, this purifier is certified as Asthma & Allergy Friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
2) GermGuardian 3-in-1 Air Purifier AC4825 Review
Get whole-room air filtration with the GermGuardian AC4825 3-in-1 Air Purifier. Made for medium-size rooms with an average ceiling height, this air purifier stands 21.5 inches tall and weighs a mere 7 pounds.
It’s equipped with a recessed carrying handle, making it highly portable. Plus, you can run it all day and night without driving up your electricity bill because it’s rated by Energy Star as drawing only 55 watts of electricity.
Both the inlet and outlet almost stretch along the entire height of the purification tower. To destroy the spores and odors that originate from mold growth, the air purifier contains a true HEPA filter with an activated carbon pre-filter. Every 6 to 8 months, you’ll notice a green indicator light flashing.
This indicator is there to remind you to change the filter, so the purifier can continue to run smoothly.
To enhance its mold-eradication abilities, there is a UV-C lamp you can turn on or off with one button push. Thanks to the titanium dioxide plate inside, the UV-C light can even knock out odor-producing VOCs. Whenever you want to change the fan to low, medium or high speed, simply turn the dial to your preferred setting.
1) Fellowes AeraMax 300 Air Purifier in White
The AeraMax 300 Air Purifier has all the features necessary to make it a high-quality air purifier. This white, 12.5-pound measures 25.1 inches by 16 inches, allowing it to be used with an extra-large filter that captures almost every particle in a 300 to 600 square-foot room.
It’s also Energy Star rated, using as few as 6 watts of electricity on its lowest fan speed. This air purifier comes with a 3-year limited warranty and an Asthma & Allergy Friendly certification.
To kill mold spores and other harmful particles, the AeraMax 300 air purifier has a four-stage filtration system. This system includes a true HEPA filter with an antimicrobial coating for keeping mildew, fungal and bacterial growth at bay as well as an odor-eliminating carbon filter.
Plus, there is an ionizing feature that creates a field of ions around the inlet. The pull-out drawer on the side makes it easy to change the carbon filter once per 3 months and the HEPA filter every year.
With this air purifier, you have the choice of running it in manual or auto mode. In manual mode, you can change the fan power to one of four speeds from the touch-button panel. On auto mode, the purifier utilizes the particle sensor to lower the number of particles in the air by self-adjusting the fan.
This purifier is also equipped with a unique feature called Aera+ Mode. When you push the button that activates this mode, the air purifier increases its airflow rate by 50 percent, which works great when you need to quickly address a mold situation.
Is Mold and Fungus the Same?
Although people often interchange the words mold and fungus, these substances aren’t one and the same. Like mushrooms and yeast, mold is simply a type of fungus. This microscopic organism can be found indoors and outdoors.
To help people understand the threat that a specific mold can cause, some countries use a three-level classification scale. While not all molds on this scale pose a health risk, even innocuous molds can damage certain components of a home, such as sheetrock, carpet and window frames.
How Does Mold Spread?
In the ecosystem, mold has a specific job – to break down dead matter like leaves and cut grass. While mold helps in the decomposition process, it also gets its nutrients via absorption. In turn, the nutrients that come from organic matter can seep into the soil to keep the soil viable for future plant growth.
In order for mold to reproduce, it creates spores, which cannot be seen by the human eye, and they are extremely lightweight, allowing them to float freely through the air. If spores land on in a place that offers the perfect temperature, moisture level and food source that mold needs to thrive, the spores can germinate in as little as 24 hours.
If the conditions continue to support mold growth, the mold will colonize and spread anywhere from 1 to 12 days, so it doesn’t take long for these microscopic spores to cause a huge problem.
How Does Mold Infiltrate a House?
Despite our best efforts, mold is a substance that humans can never completely destroy. With its role in the ecosystem and pharmaceutical industry, mold has its value. However, this doesn’t mean you should let mold grow unchecked in your home. Mold spores often find their way into homes through unsealed areas like doors, windows and even HVAC systems.
Sometimes, you can unknowingly carry it inside yourself if spores land on your shoes or clothes. Spores can even hitch a ride on your pets. If the indoor temperature and relative humidity are high enough, mold can thrive on almost any substance, particularly wood, insulation, paper, consumable goods and fabric.
What Are the Health Risks of Mold Exposure?
Although you are exposed to mold every time you step outside, indoor mold exposure usually happens when you breathe in airborne spores. Sometimes, you can get direct exposure from touching an object that is covered in mold. It’s difficult to predict how mold may affect an individual because every person’s immune system is different, and there are over 1,000 varieties of mold that can grow inside of a home.
However, some of the most common symptoms of mold exposure include sinus congestion, a sore throat, shortness of breath, eye irritation and headaches. Dizziness, confusion, memory loss and other neurotoxic symptoms can also occur when someone is exposed to mold.
Some people are more susceptible to the effects of mold than others, such as those who’ve been exposed to mold on a long-term basis, the elderly, infants, asthmatics, allergy sufferers and people who are immunocompromised.
What Are Ways to Stop Mold From Growing?
Prevention is key to controlling mold growth inside of your house. If you eliminate the conditions that mold needs to survive, it can’t grow.
This starts by keeping your thermostat set to the right temperature. Mold loves warm temperatures that range from 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, so the lower you set the thermostat, the less likely mold will grow. In addition, you have to address sources of moisture in your home, which includes the relative humidity. Mold growth can occur at humidity levels from 70 percent to 90 percent.
Ideally, the humidity in your home should stay in the 40 percent to 60 percent range to inhibit mold growth. Plus, you need to look for any leaks and standing water, such as on the roof or within the plumbing system. You also need to make sure your bathrooms are properly ventilated and your windows and doors are tightly sealed with weather stripping and caulk.
If you do spot mold in your house, don’t panic. Often, you can get rid of it with a little elbow grease. Diluted bleach is an excellent tool, or you can use baking soda to take care of mold on porous surfaces. While these chemicals work great for small mold remediation jobs, eliminating large patches of mold growth takes more work.
For instance, if you discover mold growing on your drywall or carpeting, you’ll need to cut out the moldy section and replace it. Keep in mind, none of these methods will remove mold spores.
Sometimes, the process of mold elimination can stir up mold spores, causing them to become airborne. That’s where an air purifier with a true HEPA filter comes into play. If you run the purifier 24 hours per day as a proactive measure, you can start mold growth before it starts.
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