HVAC.com’s Guide to Air Purification: Installation, Maintenance, Repairs, Costs & More

Many contaminants exist inside the average home. So much so that the air indoors can be as much as five times more polluted than outdoor air! Ventilation moves fresh air in and old, stale air out, but many homes require the help of air purifiers to remove contaminants and improve indoor air quality.

Learn more about air purifiers and air purification in our Guide to Air Purification.

Both portable and whole home air purifiers exist for use in the home. Portable air purifiers are standalone units that are placed in targeted areas to remove contaminants. Whole home air purifiers are installed with your HVAC system to remove contaminants from the air that circulates throughout the heating and cooling system – they provide air purification coverage throughout the entire home.

Popular brands of air purifiers available for use in your home include:

Installation of Air Purifiers

Installation of portable air purifiers can be done by the homeowner. These units can be purchased online or through a local home improvement store. When shopping for air purifiers, be sure to choose the appropriate size for the space you wish to treat.

For the installation of whole home air purifiers, whether they use filter media or UV lights for air purification, need to be installed by an HVAC professional. These air purifiers are essentially components of your HVAC system and must work properly with your heating and cooling equipment to deliver the benefits you expect.

Air Purification Maintenance Tips

For whole home air purifiers that use a filter, filters must be changed on a regular basis to continue functioning as you expect. Most air purifier filters have a long service life, and require a change every 6 to 12 months – be sure to check your owner’s manual for recommendations. To change the filter, simply locate the filter compartment, remove the old filter, insert the new filter in the correct position, and replace the access panel, if applicable.

Many portable air purifiers have reusable filters that can be washed. Your equipment owner’s manual contains instructions to follow for the correct cleaning process, as well as recommendations regarding how frequently the filter needs to be cleaned.

UV light air purifiers have long service lives. Depending on the model in place in your HVAC system, these bulbs last 1 to 3 years. Ask your HVAC technician to change the bulbs during your system’s preventative maintenance tune up if it’s time.

Installation & Repair Costs for Air Purifiers

Portable air purifiers are the cheapest option for air cleaning in the home, though they are not as efficient as whole home models. They start around $30 and range into the $100s, depending on the model you choose. No professional installation is necessary, as you set it up yourself.

Whole home air purifiers can cost $1,000 or more for the unit itself, plus a few hundred dollars more for installation. The price you pay for the complete air purification system is really dependent on the model you select for use at home.

Air Purification FAQs

What do air purifiers remove from my house?

  • Pet dander and hair
  • Mold spores
  • Pollen
  • Smoke
  • Dust
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Smells
  • Fumes
  • VOCs

How do UV air purifiers work?

UV air purifiers use UV lightbulbs that are installed directly within your HVAC system, targeting the ducts and coils. As polluted air circulates through the system, the UV-C energy emitted from the bulbs neutralizes harmful airborne particulates such as bacteria, mold, viruses, and more. This energy renders the particulates dead and unable to reproduce and spread across your home.

The UV-C energy produced by these air purifiers is very safe – it’s the same as our Sun emits, which works to neutralize particulates in outdoor air!

How do air purifiers that use a filter work?

While a furnace filter’s primary job is to keep the HVAC system clean through the removal of airborne contaminants, a filter media air purifier is dedicated to the removal of contaminants for your benefits. These air purifiers use a range of filter types, with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters being the most efficient, delivering the most contaminant removal.

As air flows through the system, these powerful filters capture even microscopic contaminants, trapping them from cycling through the system into your home. Because all the built-up contaminants stick in the filter, the filter eventually needs to be replaced or it will no longer be effective once filled. That’s why a regular filter change is so important!

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Air Purifiers

Air purifiers and air purification systems are great tools to improve indoor air quality in any home. The top takeaways about air purifiers from this guide include:

  1. Both portable and whole home air purification units are available. Portable models are often more affordable, while whole home air purifiers deliver better coverage.
  2. Portable air purifiers do not require professional installation. A whole home air purifier needs to be installed by your trusted HVAC contractor.
  3. Most air purifiers use filter media or UV light to trap or neutralize airborne contaminants in your home.
  4. Air purifiers do require maintenance, in the form of filter changes or cleaning if a media filter is used, or with UV lightbulb changes in UV air purification systems. Often, this maintenance is only required once or twice per year in whole home systems, while it may be needed more frequently in portable units.
  5. Portable air purifiers start as low as $30 and do not require professional installation.
  6. Whole home systems can run a homeowner over $1,000 for equipment and installation.
  7. Air purification systems are extremely effective for the removal of common allergens such as pollen, dander, dust, and more.
  8. Air purifiers help remove smells from your home, leaving you with fresher smelling indoor air.
  9. HEPA filters are the most efficient type of filter you can get to work in your air purification system.
  10. There are many great air purification products on the market. When you shop, be sure the air purifier you choose is rated for the size of the space you wish to treat.