(Last Updated On: April 27, 2023)

How to Tell if an Air Purifier is Working

By Becky Dotson

5 min read

With so much talk about air pollution, smog and Covid-19, the quality of the air we breathe has become top of mind. While we can’t control what we breathe when we walk outside, we can control what is floating around in the air inside our homes. Air purifiers can be a great way to clean the air inside, but they can be a significant investment. If you’re going to spend several hundred dollars on a unit, you want to make sure it works the way it’s supposed to.


testing an air purifier

Check the Filters

Most air purifiers come equipped with filters that need to be replaced. Some will have pre-filters that can be washed or vacuumed. Activated carbon filters pull odors and gases out of the air. They’re very absorbent and will need to be replaced more often. HEPA filters are the most effective technology at cleaning the air and will last anywhere between eight and 12 months before needing to be replaced. 

Many units will tell you when the filters need to be changed out. But it’s a good idea to check the filter regularly. The filters trap all the contaminants floating around in the air. So, if the filter looks anything but clean, it’s an easy way to know the purifier is working like it’s supposed to.

Check the Airflow

Air purifiers are equipped with a fan that pulls air from inside the room. The filters inside capture pollutants from the air and then send clean air back out. If your purifier is on, but not blowing air out, it may not be working correctly.

To make sure your air purifier works as it should, make sure to follow the company’s instructions on the best place to put it and never cover it up with curtains or blankets.

App Integration

Plenty of purifiers now come with app-integration technology. The app will provide important feedback on the air quality in the room and it will also tell you if the unit is working like it’s supposed to. Depending on the make and model, the app will let you turn the unit off and on, set up scheduled times for the unit to run, alert you when the filter(s) needs to be replaced and allow you to order replacement filters.

Air Quality Indicators

Just like everything else, air purifier technology continues to evolve. Many air purifiers now come equipped with air quality indicators. The purifier will tell you how good or bad the air is in a room at any given time and adjust to clean it accordingly. Air quality in a room can change over the course of the day, so if the sensor changes too, it’s another indicator your air purifier is working properly.

An independent air quality monitor will also help. One that’s not attached to the purifier can tell you what the air quality in the room is and you can see the progress the unit is making. You will need to get a baseline reading. So, turn the purifier off and close the windows and doors. When you get your baseline reading, turn your purifier back on and any change in the air quality monitor can be attributed to your air purifier. It shouldn’t take long to see a difference in air quality. If it takes several hours or doesn’t change at all – then you know the unit isn’t working right.

air quality indicator

Reliable Sources

Just like any big purchase, it’s important to do your research when you’re looking for an air purifier. You can start with the company website to check out what features and options are available. But it’s important to look for independent, third-party reviews. Consumer Reports tests and rates air purifiers, so that can always be a good place to start to see what’s the best and what’s not. Air purifiers are all we do at airpurifiers.com. So, we pride ourselves on expert research and independent reviews to give you the best recommendations possible.

Just like you check out restaurant reviews, it’s important to know what you’re getting with an air purifier. After all, it will end up costing more than that steak dinner. Most companies will have customer reviews on their websites, but many of them will tend to be positive. A good place to look is Amazon. The company verifies reviews from people who have actually purchased the product, and you will likely read the good, the bad and the ugly about the product.

Another place to consider looking for product information is the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This can be especially important for warranty or repair information and issues. If someone has a problem returning a product that has a return policy or issues with warranty coverage or repairs, they will often register a complaint with the BBB. If the company resolves the issue, that will also be noted on the website.

How You Feel

It may take some time, but the way you feel may be one of the best ways to know your air purifier is working. If allergy and asthma triggers aren’t as bad as they were before you bought the purifier, it can be a clear indication of the benefits of the unit. You may find you aren’t getting as sick as often as you were before or it’s just easier to breathe – and that’s definitely worth the cost you paid for the air purifier.


4 types of filtration