Do Air Conditioners Purify Air

Do Air Conditioners Purify Air?

Having an air conditioner is an indispensable part of living in today’s modern culture.

Can you imagine that the indoor air conditioner has only been around since the early 1900s?

Many of the architectural designs we admire, high ceilings for instance, came to be out of necessity define ways to cool off the air inside of the house.

But these days,  only a little over a hundred years later, many of us cannot stand to be outside in the summer separated from the cool air indoors.

But as building techniques have grown into highly sophisticated ways keeping our homes sealed up, we now have a different problem of our indoor air being polluted.

Breathing clean air is as fundamental a need as being able to cool down or heat up indoors.

It would be great if the same appliances and machines that cool and heat our air we’re also responsible for cleaning our air.
But is that even a possibility?

Do air conditioners purify air?

Air conditioners function mainly to cool off the air in a home but they do work slightly as an air purifier in two ways.

1. They filter the return air.
2. They reduce the humidity can facilitate mold growth and house dust mites.

Do I need an air purifier if I have ACDo I need an air purifier if I have AC?

Yes. Though your AC can help clean your air through the return vent and keeping the humidity down to a small extent, your typical indoor air quality is much worse then what the air conditioning is able to combat.

Though your AC does have a filter, the primary reason it is there is not to purify the air but to keep dust pollution from getting into your air conditioner.

And though you can purchase HEPA filters that capture much more air pollutants then the typical AC filter,

You have to remember that the AC requires a free flow of air to function properly. Using a dense filter like HEPA for your AC we’ll put a lot of strain on your machine and require much more energy to work.

And though air conditioning coils work much like a dehumidifier, relying on the air conditioner alone to reduce the humidity in the house during the hot summer months also causes the AC to work on overload. Which makes your bill higher and the efficiency what’s your air conditioner work lower.

The air conditioning function of your HVAC unit is also responsible for much of your bad indoor air.

What do I mean?..

The climate inside of your HVAC is moist and it is dark. And there can be actual standing water inside of the drip pan located by the condenser coils.

Standing water in a moist dark area is the ideal environment for mold to grow.

If you have mold inside of the duct work of your AC, then every time your unit cycles, it dispenses mold spores throughout your home via your duct work.

And then the same moldy air gets pulled into your return vents where the cycle starts over again.

Another problem your AC poses to the indoor air quality in your home is dust mites.

If your duct work is dirty, then you have a built-in home for dust mites.

Dust mites also flourish in humidity.

and how humidity is one of the main reasons the air conditioner is running Non-Stop in the summer.

A vicious cycle..

Long story short. Indoor air quality is not best left to an air conditioner to manage.

Air conditioner with air purifier?

With most combo type devices whether it be a humidifier / diffuser or air conditioning and air purifier all-in-one combo, the result is usually subpar.

Most of these machines do completely different jobs and shoving all the parts for both inside a box is not the best ideal.

The portable air conditioner with a built-in air purifier usually means one of two things:

1.  It contains a HEPA filter that can filter out smaller particles as the air is being pulled into the air conditioner.

2. Or the purifier itself is an ionizer

Using a HEPA filter in the slot where the normal AC filter goes will capture a little more of the airborne contaminants then the typical filter but it cannot do anywhere as much as having a dedicated filtering air purifier.

Plus the exchange of air that an air conditioner requires to work properly does not happen easily when the air filter is extra dense like a HEPA.

The result will be much like running the air conditioner with a dirty filter which limits its ability to cool dramatically.

A portable or window air conditioner with a built-in ionizer is a better idea but it doesn’t exactly make for all the components of a good air conditioner or a good air purifier.

The problem is is that ions have a very short life and they have a even shorter life when they are blown by a fan.

The air condition will have to be kept on it the lowest fan setting for the ionization to have a real effect on the room.


Ionizers inside of a HVAC air conditioning unit can be a much better idea.

Specifically ionizers that use photocatalytic oxidation or plasma.

Placing these air purifiers directly into the ductwork and the plenum of your HVAC can extremely limit the amount of mold and germs, as well as dust mites that are distributed by your AC and heat every time your air handler kicks on.

This is the best way that your air conditioning can actually be your air purifier and efficiently work as a air purifier and air conditioner.


Can your air conditioner purify air?

Yes your air conditioner does have some slight air-purifying function because it does contain a filter that captures dust pollution before it is pulled into the AC.

Also air conditioners have a dehumidifier effect that help reduce moisture in the air which can facilitate dust mites and mold spores.

But air conditioning is not an air purifier and does not have the capacity to manage indoor air quality or efficiently combat indoor air pollution.

Though there are a few portable air conditioner and air purifier combo available to the public, they are fundamentally flawed and do not cool or clean the air, either one efficiently.

But if your home is outfitted with central heat and air, the opportunity for you to have an air conditioner that efficiently cleans the air is available.

In duct air purifiers, specifically photocatalytic and plasma in-duct air purifiers can efficiently clean the air inside of your ductwork as well as clean the air that is returning to your unit to be redistributed.

Hopefully as time moves forward, this type of air purification will be built in to each central heat and air unit that is being installed.

We’ll see…


Published by

Dennis Reed

Dennis Reed Owner and Author @