HEPA StrangeFan; or “How I learned to stop breathing in particulates and love the air in my house” (Wednesday night’s last minute hack)

The basement in my rented house, as readers of this blog will know, has had a GREAT deal of work go into it.  But alongside longer term projects to improve the place, one must bear in mind the need to do upkeep sorts of things as well.  The furnace in our house does work, but it is on the old side; combined with the lack of central air conditioning, the ability of the house fan to circulate air and prevent stagnation is suspect at best.  So, I have had a fan on a mechanical timer for months, to keep air flowing in the basement.  As the photos interspersed into this post will show clearly, we are DEFINITELY breathing in crap from the air,  even in our house which we keep clean and air out consistently.

The fan in my basement is a box fan I got as a gift from my dad, when he helped me move into my house in DC, more than 5 years ago. It has continued to serve me faithfully.  It was also used to help blow dust out of the basement here in New Haven when we wire-brushed the walls… and so was DESPERATELY in need of a cleansing of the highest order.

the fan and new furnace filter. Note how yucky the fan is.

the fan and new furnace filter. Note how yucky the fan is.

On the way to krav maga tonight, I decided to stop at Home De(s)pot and buy a HEPA-level furnace filter, having caught an interesting claim from the University of Michigan, that one can use a higher-end furnace filter on a box fan to basically emulate a SUPER expensive HEPA filter unit.

Removed one panel, the inside was disgusting

Removed one panel, the inside was disgusting

Given I paid $20 for this filter from the ‘Depot, and HEPA units easily run $600 or more, and that the fan itself was a gift many years ago from my dad (and wouldn’t be more than $20 to replace if it breaks), this seems like a FAIRLY good deal to better filter the air in my house… especially with allergy season rearing its ugly head.

So how good is this pinch hit going to work?  The guy from UM seems to suggest it will be 90% effective compared to the standard HEPA unit.  Claims made by the packaging of this furnace air filter (same company and quality as this one) include the near-total removal from the air of:
* Dust/lint
* Airborne dust
* Mite debris
* Pollen
*Pet dander
* Mold spores
*Bacteria
* Microscopic allergens
* Virus carriers
* Odor
* Most smoke
* Smog particles

Now, we don’t typically have smog in our basement, to be sure… but if the thing is going to remove all the rest of that crap from my air, perhaps I am better off being prepared for the possibility of a climatic system developing in my basement AND producing smog, eh?

... like SERIOUSLY gross

… like SERIOUSLY gross

The fact of the matter is, I have breathed in worse walking through clouds of cigarette smoke (here’s looking at you Ryan :/ ) which actively make me feel ill… but I would rather take the best care of myself, my housemates, and of course Ike by making the air as clean as I can.

the garden hose power wash setting make quick work of the vents

the garden hose power wash setting make quick work of the vents

We screen a lot of films and television shows down here using the home theater I put together, so it is good that the fan will clean the bejeezus out of the air in the basement most of the day, every single day.

filter attached on the front of the fan

filter attached on the front of the fan

So, all told, $20 to get 90% of the benefits of a $650 (or more) air filtration system.  And it uses significantly less electricity to run, too.  I believe I have won this round.

while the back is completely open, to maximize airflow through the filter

while the back is completely open, to maximize airflow through the filter

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One response to “HEPA StrangeFan; or “How I learned to stop breathing in particulates and love the air in my house” (Wednesday night’s last minute hack)

  1. Pingback: Conquering the muggy (wetlands?) basement foe – active, passive, and natural humidity control | A Jaunt Around the World - Cleveland, OH

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