How to tell if air purifier is working: Pro Tips for Beginners

An air purifier is an important appliance for indoor air quality in homes and offices, especially when someone smokes or has severe allergies.

Sometimes it can be difficult for you to know if the purifier is working properly.

Not all air purifiers make noise.

Whether the air purifier uses HEPA filters, UV (ultraviolet) light, or anything else, there are ways to determine if a purifier is working properly.

So, how to tell if air purifier is working. Let’s figure it out.

How to tell if air purifier is working: Pro Tips for Beginners

Types of filters

HEPA Filter

They are air purifiers that use these filters to capture 99.97% of all air pollutants as small as 0.03 microns.

A HEPA filter uses technologies that prevent the growth of bacteria and viruses, making it even more effective at improving air quality.

Ozone Generators

These air purifiers are only used to capture odors, usually used in hotels where smoking is allowed as they can capture all smoke odors.

However, they also emit high levels of ozone, which can lead to respiratory problems.

As such, you need to leave the room within approximately 24 hours of using ozone generators, making them unsuitable for everyday residential use.

Electrostatic precipitators

These are air purifiers in which incoming particles are charged with negative electrical energy so they can collect on electrostatic plates.

However, once enough particles accumulate on the plates, they need to be replaced, increasing maintenance costs.

In addition, they also release ozone, which can lead to respiratory problems.

They were popular air filtration devices in the past but are rarely used nowadays.

How to tell if air purifier is working: Pro Tips for Beginners

Ultraviolet Air Purifiers

These air purifiers use ultraviolet light to penetrate the cell structure of microorganisms, permanently destroying them and preventing them from multiplying.

Thus, these air purifiers do not trap things such as pollen, but rather eliminate them.

Activated carbon filters

An activated carbon filter does not trap contaminants such as bacteria, but it is extremely effective at trapping chemicals and releasing gases and odors.

They use a highly porous form of carbon that is heated to increase surface area and trap the aforementioned contaminants.

How do you tell if your air purifier is working?

Air Quality Indicator

The best indicator of whether an air purifier is working is the purifier’s built in monitors. The filter service indicator will let you know when the air filter has run out of capacity and needs to be replaced.

The air purifiers even have different lights for different levels of efficiency on their indoor air quality monitor.

If your indicator shows results that differ greatly from reality, then you might be facing a malfunction. An example of this may be cheap sensors that don’t record all the pollution in the indoor air that you might need to replace.

Air Filters

It is also possible to check if your purifier’s filter is clogged using just your naked eye.

As such, it’s a good idea to check the filter by hand from time to time, especially if you think your air purifier isn’t working at full capacity.

There should be enough debris in the air filter to indicate that it is working, but not so much that it is completely clogged.

If your purifier filter is too dirty and clogged, you might need a filter replacement.

How to tell if air purifier is working: Pro Tips for Beginners

Airflow Test

It is probably one of the easiest tests to run. You should place your hand next to the fan of the purifier, and if you don’t feel any wind coming out, there is a problem here.

Additionally, if the system makes too much noise, or it just seems that the purifier is working too hard for its performance, you should look for malfunctions.

Electronic Air Quality Monitor

You can also install a separate device known as an air quality monitor or an indoor air quality monitor that informs you about the air quality in your home. With this device, you can find out how effectively the air purifier cleans your home.

The air entering this tiny device with a sensitive sensor is continuously illuminated by a laser beam.

A usual sensor can recognize microscopic up to 0.3 microns in size, and data on their concentration in mcg/m3 is displayed on the display.

Depending on the level of contamination, the indicator strip at the top of the screen shows a green light or red light.

Thus, do a baseline reading of your room without the air purification system being turned on. Then, after the first reading, do a second reading after running an air cleaner for around 30 minutes.

If the reading indicates better results, then this is a good sign, meaning that your unit has passed the test and the air purifier is working efficiently.

If the reading indicates the same or similar results, this may indicate that your working air purifier has failed the test and you may need to change air filters or replace a pre filter fan to improve airflow.

Odor Test

This is a very simple test to run, even if you don’t have any extra equipment. Just do something that makes a very recognizable smell and see if the air purifier handles it!

If you, for example, decide to make some Italian food, and after a few hours your house still smells like garlic, your air purifier isn’t improving the airflow.

Dust Test

Another test that you can run if you aren’t sure if your air purifier is working is to raise some dust particles and see if the air purifier handles them.

So, go get your dustiest carpet, shake it a little bit to release dust mites into the air in a living space with an air purifier, and wait.

If you see with your naked eyes that the amount of dust particulate matter keeps decreasing, then your air purifier is working right and improving your air quality. Thus, you don’t need to install new purifier filters!

Otherwise, you might be having a dirty filter that obstructs the fan and prevents air circulation, resulting in poor air quality.

The easiest part is that it can be done without additional equipment, just the human eye!

Professional IAQ Testing

Finally, if any other test shows up no results and your air quality stays at a low level, a great idea would be to seek out professional help.

They will determine your overall air quality, carbon dioxide levels, air circulation, and whether or not there is any air pollution or gaseous pollutants in your habitat.

Overall, a great decision for a test if nothing else works and you decide to bring in the cavalry!

How long does it take to notice a difference with an air purifier?

It all depends on the type of air pollutants you want to get rid of. With most air purifiers, you will start to feel cleaner air in around half an hour. If an air purifier (even on low setting) is working for several hours, you will feel that your habitation has completely healthy air.


Is an air purifier supposed to run constantly?

For optimal performance, many air purifiers should be running continuously to maintain clean air and airflow. When the air purifier is turned off, indoor air pollution returns to its original state.

Just remember that your air purifier, like any other electronic equipment, requires maintenance. Thus, if you don’t want any contaminants, such as asthma triggers or pollen, in your room, make sure you are manually checking your unit regularly and installing new filters in time.

A great idea would be to keep more than one filter to replace filters instantly saving you a trip to the store.

Do air purifiers get rid of dust?

Yes, they do!

An air purifier with a mechanical filter, such as a HEPA filter, is considered “good” if it can trap even the smallest particles inside the filter fibers. Dust particles are typically 2.5 to 10 micrometers in size, although some fine particles can be even smaller.

An air purifier with HEPA will be able to deal with particles that fall within this range and even beyond that!

Do air purifiers work immediately?

It depends on what you put into this question.

Does an air purifier get rid of pollutants and contaminants instantly after you turn it on? No.

Does an air purifier begin cleaning your air of indoor pollutants and volatile organic compounds as soon as its fan is turned on? Definitely yes!


If the above points are working correctly, likely, the purifier is not the problem. If air purification seems to be an issue, you may need a larger model that is specifically designed to work in larger areas.

Thus, now you know how to tell if air purifier is working!

Make sure to share this post with your friends if they own (or plan to buy) an air purifier!

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