What Is an Air Scrubber and How Does It Work?

Updated: February 6, 2024

When it comes to your health, there’s nothing more important than the air you breathe. Per the Environmental Protection Agency, you can experience adverse side effects from a single exposure to a pollutant or indoor air contaminant. Further, repeated exposure can lead to long-term health effects, such as respiratory disease. 

To protect yourself, your family, or your business, you need to make sure the air they breathe is clean and pollutant-free. One of the best ways to help ensure that it is with an air scrubber.  

What Is an Air Scrubber? 

An air scrubber acts as an air purification system for large, industrial, or commercial spaces. They are often used on construction sites, during renovation projections, and when remediation is needed. Air scrubbers are primarily used to make the air breathable again after it has been contaminated by toxic chemicals, gases, and pollutants. A common situation where air scrubbers are needed is when mold is present and being removed. 

They are two types of air scrubbers: dry and wet scrubbing. Dry scrubbing air scrubbers work by vacuuming pollutants through a dry filter to remove them from the air. The dry filter is made from sorbent, a substance that can absorb pollutants.  

Most experts regard wet air scrubbers as versatile and cost-effective. These scrubbers will force air through a damp filter that traps contaminants, particulates, and pollutants. 

While air scrubbers are primarily used in industrial settings or construction sites, they are available for home use. By installing an air scrubber directly to the HVAC system, the air that moves through the ductwork will be forced to pass through the scrubber. This creates an effective home air purification system. 

How Do Air Scrubbers Work? 

Not only do air scrubbers work, but they’re also quite effective at what they do. Experts agree that air scrubbers can remove over 99% of bacteria, dust, mold, pollen, and surface microorganisms from the air. Even better, they can help keep heating and cooling systems running efficiently due to their ability to keep the air clean. 

Most air scrubbers are made up of multiple components that are necessary to help clean the air: 

      • Pre-filter 
      • Carbon filter 
      • Primary filter 
      • Blower 

The pre-filter is, per its name, the first line of filtering. It’s designed to catch the most massive particles that pass through the scrubber and remove them from the airflow. This helps the next filters do their job. 

While it’s not present in every scrubber, the carbon filter can help remove gas, chemical, and vapor molecules from the air. The carbon in the filter can absorb these materials, helping clean the air that passes through it. 

The last filter is the primary filter. This filter is considered a HEPA filter as it can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns. 

Finally, the blower is another necessary part of the scrubber. It sucks the air through the filters then blows out the clean air after the task is complete. 

How Do You Use Air Scrubbers? 

Air scrubbers are installed directly into the heating and cooling duct systems. These scrubbers are commonly low wattage, meaning they run efficiently and cover nearly 3000 square feet of space.

Beyond its ability to remove the pollutants and contaminants listed in the above sections, air scrubbers also supply many other benefits: 

      • Helps to eliminate volatile organic compounds 
      • Reduce pet dander 
      • Remove odors caused by cigarette smoke, burnt foods, and pets. 

Some air scrubbers also work with ductless heating and cooling systems, often called mini-splits or heat pumps. In this situation, the air scrubber is installed directly onto the internal units, giving them all the benefits of a typical air scrubber system. 

To make air scrubbers even more useful, some units come with UV ray filtration in addition to their other filters. UV light can kill microorganisms, such as dust mites, which are the source of many common allergies. 

How Long Should You Run Air Scrubbers? 

Many factors go into determining how long you should run your air scrubber. Two essential ones are the level of contamination or pollution and the size of the indoor space. Most industry guidelines call for running an air scrubber for between 24 to 48 hours. As most scrubbers do four to six full air exchanges each hour, this amount of time will allow the scrubber to do its work effectively and efficiently. 

Generally, though, it’s best to partner with air purification experts, like those at A-Z Air Duct, to determine the ideal amount of time to leave the air scrubber running. Although these types of situations are rare, it is possible to need more than 48 hours of air scrubbing to clean the air of space effectively. 

How Much Do Air Scrubbers Cost? 

An air scrubber can be an investment but pays off in lowered utility bills and reduced maintenance costs. In situations where the contamination or pollution level has started to affect your health, you can also find yourself spending less time and money seeking medical attention after the installation of an air scrubber. 

The size of your home and heating/cooling system will determine the cost of your air scrubber unit. Generally speaking, though, air scrubbers can cost anywhere between $1000 and $3000. For unusually large spaces or ones needing extra cleaning, the cost may be even higher.  

Why Choose A-Z Air Duct in Phoenix? 

At A-Z Air Duct in Phoenix, we care about the air you breathe. We’re a family-owned and operated company located in Phoenix, AZ, so we know how important it is to ensure your family and employees are breathing clean air. 

Our expert, customer-focused technicians are trained to work efficiently and effectively, making sure to care for your Phoenix area home or business just as we would care for ours. They’ll work with you to understand your specific needs and offer concrete solutions that are tailored for you. 

Call A-Z Air Duct today at 602-466-2234 for a free quote. You can also reach out to us online through our contact form


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