Low Cost Hack To Increase Air Quality

David Trammel's picture

Listened to a NPR episode yesterday discussing the link between poor air quality and the severity of Covid 19 illnesses. I can't find the link yet, so I'll summarize.

The report was primarily talking about the Western wildfires and how they impact air quality in homes and lead to respiratory problems. What they suggested as a simple low cost hack was to tape a furnace filter to the back of a box fan, and run it in your home. The fan will pull in the air and as it passes thru the filter, smoke particles will be trapped. Made sense.

In a recent Peak Prosperity video, Martinson referenced recent autopsies and MRI scans which are showing even asymptomatic Covid illnesses can cause long term lung and heart damage, so keeping your exposure to lung irritants like smoke and dust, may help lessen the effects.

Wouldn't work that well in my case. I don't use my air conditioning, and so I have my windows and doors open to the outside air, but for indoor or perhaps night time, having such a low cost air filter might be advantageous.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I've thought about doing this, too, especially since my husband has asthma pretty bad.. We actually got a fairly large second-hand HEPA air filter, but it generates too much heat to use in warm months. I'm thinking a box fan would need a fairly high quality air filter attached in order to trap particles as small as smoke. We've tried such filters on the blower for our furnace, but the system was not designed for that much air flow impedance. I could tell the motor was strained. I wonder if that would not happen to a box fan with a good filter. What do you think?

There are a lot of different filters for different applications. In every case, filters clog fast and need to be changed.

Furnace filters need to be changed monthly during the heating season, no matter what the filter packaging says.
If your furnace duct-work is used for your air conditioner, you have to change the filter monthly during the cooling season as well.

Vents for your forced air system can be lined with filter material sold by companies that make products for allergy and asthma sufferers. We've used them and they need to be replaced regularly because they work so well (keeping dust out of the air) that they clog up and then no air gets through them at all.

Re-usable filters for your furnace/air conditioner work. We have a set of three and Younger Son rotates them on a monthly basis. The other two months, the filters hang out on the clothesline being washed regularly by rain and high winds. We haven't had a problem with them coming inside the house with pollen and dust. A good thunderstorm really cleans them.

If you put a filter on a fan, you'll have to vacuum it regularly to clean out the dust. Your fans should be vacuumed clean from the dust buildup. They'll be more efficient.

When you're cleaning filters and fans, don't forget the dust buildup and subsequent heat buildup inside the CPU. It's amazing how much cat hair and crud can accumulate.