Resources and Support for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Environmental Illness, and Chemical Injuries in Canada

Adapting an "Electronic" Air Cleaner to Filter VOCs

This is a Kenmore room-size air cleaner. It's advertised as follows: up to 95% of atmospheric and household dust, pollen, mold, smoke and more down to 0.01 microns. Electronic 3-Stage Technology. Fan Speed: 3. For Room Size: Medium (up to 12 x 15'). Air Change Per Hour: 3. Ion Generator. Dimensions : 18 x 11 1/2 x 5.

It was a fan I bought when I first became ill and cost about $250. It was never adequate to clean the air at my old house (which was conventionally built and leaky). The good thing about this air cleaner, is that the casing is all metal and the 3-setting fan is fairly strong. I wouldn't recommend buying one and adapting it to this use because of the price. If you have one already, though, or can pick one up second-hand inexpensively, it makes an effective air cleaner as I've adapted it.

Essentially, I lifted the 'box' out of the machine and replaced it with a filter "cage" I made. I am unable to use any conventional filters because of the paper and adhesives in them or I might have tried to simply find a pre-made hepa and charcoal filter to fit.

To make the "cage" for the charcoal, I used aluminum screening so that air could move through it freely and so that the filter wouldn't be drawn into the fan. It is taped to form a pocket using aluminum foil tape. I taped all the edges of the screen before assembling, making sure that the tape folded over itself in such a way that no adhesive is exposed to the air. It is taped together at the sides to hold it together and I also taped the inside edge so that adhesive isn't exposed. The top is held together with metal clips so I can dump out the charcoal. (In the pictures I have charcoal and zeolite in it. I didn't find the combination worked as well as charcoal alone.) I also use a layer of particulate filtration material sitting "before" the filter cage to filter out particulates.

Though I've not yet tried it, I think the fan in this unit would be strong enough to use a 1.5 to 2 inch filter.

I've used it as a regular room air cleaner and it works very well. I've also used it in the window to bring in fresh, filtered air during the summer. To block the air entering through the opening of the window at the sides, I covered some cardboard cut-to-size with foil and wedge it in. It is stiff enough to stay in place. (My windows are the type that slide up and down.) It balances fine on the windowsill with the window pressing down on it, but I have a small table out on the balcony that reaches the bottom of the window just in case. (If you tried to use this in a house or building with no balcony on any level but the first, you would need to make sure this was much more secure in case it fell out and hit someone, of course.)

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