What’s an Air Scrubber and How Does It Work?

Air Scrubber in O'Fallon, MO

Over the past decade, air scrubbers have become increasingly popular because of their ability to get rid of indoor air contaminants. Before you have an air scrubber installed in your home, you should know how this piece of equipment works and why it should be used in place of an air purifier. Even though air purifiers are able to treat the air in one room, scrubbers can treat an entire home. If you purchase one of these systems, we can install it for you.

Air Scrubber Types

There are two primary types of air scrubbers that you can purchase for your home, which include portable air scrubbers and integrated air scrubbers. Portable air scrubbers are regularly used when performing home renovations or similar indoor projects. These projects can send ample amounts of contaminants into your indoor air, which a portable air scrubber can effectively remove.

Once the project is completed, you can place the air scrubber in storage until it’s needed again. These systems aren’t meant to be permanent aspects of your home. They are typically available as weekly or daily rentals. Portable air scrubbers usually have an industrial design that’s outfitted with exhaust tubes. The contaminants that are removed from the indoor air are sent outdoors through these tubes.

Integrated air scrubbers are able to be installed directly into a residential home. Here at Hoff Heating & AC in O’Fallon, MO, our team provides professional installation services for these systems. These units are considerably smaller than portable ones and can be placed directly in your HVAC system. Once installed, an integrated air scrubber will consistently purify your indoor air. This should help to prevent harmful allergens from affecting your family’s health.

How Do Air Scrubbers Work?

Air scrubbers are designed to take indoor air from your home and pass it through numerous filters. While air filters are only able to trap harmful pathogens and other airborne contaminants, air scrubbers kill these contaminants altogether.

These systems can also send ionized oxidizers into your home’s indoor air. Oxidizers have a negative charge to them, which ensures that they attract any positive ions in your air. This can include anything from smoke to odors. The negatively charged ions effectively scrub the air to get rid of the positive ions.

Air scrubbers are also used in commercial settings since a failure to clean the air can result in high remediation costs, decreased productivity, and health issues among employees. If you use a portable air scrubber, one operator is able to move this unit around to different areas of the property. As mentioned previously, these units are recommended when performing sizable renovations since an integrated air scrubber may be unable to get rid of all indoor air contaminants.

The majority of air scrubbers are tall but have a small footprint. Air scrubbers are commonly equipped with high-efficiency blowers and high-rpm motors. Even though every air scrubber is different, they all use a similar air filtration process. In many cases, these systems come with three filters to ensure that nearly all airborne particles are removed.

Primary Air Scrubber Parts

Air scrubbers have purification filters that get rid of indoor air contaminants as the air is circulated throughout the entire system. This process occurs a few times every hour. The air scrubber will bring in contaminated air from the surrounding space while at the same time sending fresh air into your home.

Most of these units come with HEPA filters, which are considered to be more potent than standard air filters. HEPA filters can capture tiny particles like:

  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Bacteria

Since this process occurs regularly each hour, the air in your home is kept continuously clean. If you already have an air scrubber installed in your home but believe that your air quality is getting worse, it’s possible that the scrubber has malfunctioned and needs to be repaired.


This is the initial filtration stage, which is when pre-filters take hold of some of the larger particles that are present in your home’s indoor air. Getting rid of these particles makes it easier for your scrubber and HVAC unit to maintain airflow and efficiency.

Carbon Filters

The majority of air scrubbers are equipped with a carbon filter, which is an optional filter that’s not automatically included in these systems. A carbon filter is able to capture vapor and gas molecules that cause odors. Carbon filters work by using the adsorption process, which results in gaseous molecules being attracted to the carbon’s surface.

Main Filter

This is the final filtration phase, which allows small particles and contaminants to be removed from the air. Most of these filters can get rid of particles that are around 0.3 microns or larger in size. HEPA filters are advertised as being able to capture upwards of 99.7% of indoor air contaminants.


In order for an air scrubber to collect and filter high amounts of indoor air, it must come with a reliable blower. This blower will pull air into the filters and push it out of the exhaust pipes. The component’s power level needs to match the filter system’s efficiency. If the blower is too strong, the unit’s efficiency could worsen.

Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution

There are many industries and facilities that require the use of an indoor air scrubber to maintain air quality and keep serious issues at bay. If you want to be comfortable in your home, having an air scrubber installed may be just what you need. Working or living in a space that lacks clean air can be harmful to your health.

Contaminated air is known to cause breathing difficulties and respiratory irritation. The current status of your health will determine how you react to indoor air pollution. Additional factors that dictate what the health effects include the type of pollutant, the pollutant’s concentration, and how long you’re exposed to the contaminated air. The immediate health problems that can stem from high air pollution include:

  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Respiratory illness
  • Cell damage
  • Stress to heart and lungs

If you’re exposed to polluted air for a lengthy period of time, some of the permanent health effects include:

  • Fast lung aging
  • Reduced lung capacity
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Cancer
  • Shorter lifespan

People who are more susceptible to health issues from air pollution include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Individuals with heart problems
  • Individuals with lung disease
  • Elderly individuals
  • Children below 14
  • Athletes
  • Outdoor workers

The particulate matter that contaminates indoor air can include soot, metals, smoke, nitrates, sulfates, water, and dust. These substances can be emitted directly or as atmospheric reactions. The size of the particles in your home’s indoor air determines if you’re at risk of health issues. Smaller particles are more likely to get through your body’s defenses and into your lungs. Being exposed to these particles can adversely affect your heart and lungs.

At Hoff Heating & AC, we can help you keep your indoor air clean by installing an air scrubber in your HVAC unit. This should immediately improve your home’s indoor air quality. We offer many indoor air quality services to make sure that all of your needs are met. Along with air scrubbers, our technicians can install air purifiers, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, germicidal lights, and air filtration systems. O’Fallon residents can also request our heating and air conditioning services, which include full maintenance, repair, and installation services. Contact Hoff Heating & AC today to find out more about the services we provide.