PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

Air Filtration/Purification Systems

[IMAGE: Make your family healthy, and comfortable]

Is your home making you sick?

It's winter. You're stuck inside.

The average person now spends 90 percent of their time inside, where indoor air can be 10 to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, according to the EPA. Asthma rates in the U.S. have doubled in the past 20 years while asthma related deaths have tripled. See a connection?

So, what can you do to ensure that your home is healthy and safe for your family? Should you believe that billboard or newspaper ad and buy the expensive air purification system with the hi-tech HEPA and UV filters?

Perhaps, but before you drop a few thousand dollars, there are some things you should do first.

Isolate. Eliminate. Filter.

Isolate the source of unhealthy air. Eliminate its source. Filter the air.

  1. What is causing the bad indoor air? Excessive moisture? Dirty air leaking down from the attic, up from the basement, or through the garage? Unhealthy air bypassing your current filter through holes in your ductwork? Are your gas appliances backdrafting? Does your house have excessive pet dander?

    These are tough questions for most people to answer, so you will most likely need to call in a professional. Most energy raters will be able to give an air quality analysis for roughly $300 to $600. As a bonus, they'll also tell you how to lower your utility bills.

    "Call an energy rater for an air quality problem," you say. "That doesn't sound right." Sure, but the causes of poor indoor air quality are often the same or closely related to those that make homes inefficient and uncomfortable. So yes, get an energy rater to inspect your house. Visit to find a local energy rater.

  2. Once the source(s) of your poor indoor air have been determined, eliminate the problems.

  3. Only after completing steps 1 and 2 should you consider getting one of those fancy filtration systems. It doesn't make much sense putting in an air purification system when the unhealthy air is bypassing the expensive new system through leaks in your ductwork or walls, does it? Of course not. Many of the better air purification companies require you to first look for the sources of the poor air quality, anyway. Some will even go to your home to do this.

    Consider waiting a few weeks after all improvements have been made to see if the air quality is to your liking. If not, go get that purification system. Most work well, but only if your home is ready for them.

Another analogy: Buying a high-tech filtration/purification system before determining where the contaminants are coming from is like purifying your drinking water only to put it into a glass that hasn't been washed in years. It's like trying to vacuum up a swamp. Like. . .

Have we hammered this point enough?

Next, learn about your choices of air filters and purification systems.

Content updated on 2/27/2007

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