Can You Overuse an Air Purifier?

Indoor and outdoor pollution has more than tripled in the last few decades, resulting in a rise in health issues globally. Air purifiers are now one of the most popular items in a US home because they can decrease air pollutants’ effects. So since an air purifier’s use should match the air pollution level, can you overuse one?

You cannot overuse an air purifier because the manufacturers design them to run all the time. However, some precautions are necessary for using an air purifier. For example, running it on a dirty filter might be in the overuse ‘alley’ if it breaks down.

This article explores the duration you can run your air purifier and if you can overuse an air purifier. I also discuss the possibility of air purifiers making you sick if you run them non-stop.

How Long Can You Run Your Air Purifier?

Air purifiers, both portable and whole-house units, work to sanitize the air within your home, providing better health and comfort. They remove smoke, dust, pollen, dander, and other airborne toxins. Most models have a fan that pulls in air and passes it through a filter.

The filter traps the particles and contaminants, and then the air purifier releases the filtered air into your space. After a few cycles, it completely transforms the air in a room from polluted to clean. More and more people are discussing the benefits of good air filtration within the home space, and old and new owners of air purifiers have questions.

One recurring question is about how long an air purifier should run. You can run your air purifier all the time without issues, and here’s why:

A Continuous Filtration Process

The air within your home has contaminants everywhere, and your air purifier helps keep the air clean. However, outdoor air finds a way indoors to mix with the newly purified air. New pollutants enter your home from open doors and windows or cracks and crevices. 

Running your air purifier all the time allows it to rid the air of these pollutants continuously. However, turning off the air purifier stops its purification process, allowing re-contamination of the air.

If you want to breathe clean air, you should always maintain good air filtration inside the house. A continuous filtration process also helps minimize dust accumulation on surfaces in the room and makes vacuuming or dusting easier.

Work-around-the-Clock Design

Air purifiers, especially high-end models, have energy-efficient motors that work with minimal noise and last for many years. These devices must meet stringent standards before market use. So, the best air purifiers pass rigorous testing to ensure they perform optimally for a long time.

It would be best to purchase from reputable brands. Their air purifiers are designed to run 24/7 and comprise the highest quality materials, like robust fan motors and excellent filters.

Low Electricity Consumption

Air purifiers consume less electricity than many people assume, particularly Energy Star certified models. Most HEPA filters use 50 to 100 Watts per hour and only cost about $6 to $10 monthly with 24 hours of use. So, switching your air purifier is counterintuitive if you aim to save energy.

It would be better to get an energy-efficient model if you’re concerned about your utility bills. Regardless, 24/7 use of your air purifier won’t raise your electricity bill significantly.

Auto Mode Feature

Technology makes life easier, and air purifiers aren’t out of the loop. Most models have an Auto Mode feature that automatically adjusts the unit’s fan per volume of air contamination. With smart sensors built-in, such purifiers can detect the different levels of air pollutants and increase or decrease the fan speed accordingly.

More air pollutants mean a higher fan speed to eliminate them faster. When the air contaminant volume is reduced, the unit will run at a lower fan speed to maintain clean air. This feature conserves energy and minimizes the noise level.

Hopefully, you can see that your air purifier can hold its own with 24/7 use. Notwithstanding, if you’re still concerned about such a long runtime, you can run it only when you’re at home. You can also use oxygen-producing plants to share the burden of purifying the air with your air purifier.

Can You Overuse an Air Purifier?

As the world faces the reality of its pollution problem, more people have become conscious of the air quality in their homes. You may not directly control the air quality outdoors, but you get to decide how it is in your home. Hence your air purifier to improve your home’s air quality.

An air purifier isn’t the only option to provide your home with cleaner air, but it’s a convenient method. Most air purifiers are easy to use and require little effort to maintain. They have also come a long way in the design department, using better technology to adapt to your needs.

They have different modes for different times of the day or your various activities. Considering these attractive features, you might wonder if you can overuse an air purifier. I’ve never heard about overusing air purifiers.

Can you overuse your fridge? If it’s about the use frequency, then an air purifier is like a freezer—built for continual use. If you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use and maintenance, it’ll run for the duration of its lifespan.

Proper maintenance involves changing the filters when necessary and placing the device in the correct location. It also includes not pushing an air purifier past its capability. I’m sure continuing to run an air purifier when you should have its replacement (or filter replacement) counts as overuse.

You can avoid crossing into this area of overuse by looking out for signs that point to needing a replacement, including:

  • Unusual stuffiness and odors in your space.
  • If the air purifier makes too much noise when you run it.
  • If the filter is damp, bent, or damaged.
  • When you notice a decrease in airflow in the room.
  • If you place a white sheet a few inches from the unit’s outlet (for an hour) and it turns gray or black.
  • A resurgence of allergies and breathing problems.
  • If there’s a rapid increase in your electricity bill over some months (air filters should be energy efficient).

While most of these signs indicate a filter change, some issues need more than a filter change. A clogged filter won’t clean the air as it should, defeating the entire purpose of having an air purifier.

Can Air Purifiers Make You Sick If Running Non-Stop?

Air purifiers keep you from breathing dirty air by removing particulate matter, toxic gases, and even biological pollutants from indoor air. There’s been extensive research about their efficacy and specific health benefits in recent years.

Results show that they improve air quality and ease allergy and asthma symptoms. However, not everyone has a rosy experience with air purifiers, and it’s understandable to question whether they can make you sick. 

An air purifier shouldn’t make you sick, except there’re other contributing factors. In particular, air purifiers with HEPA filters shouldn’t affect your health negatively, regardless of how long you run them. Again, I want to reiterate that air purifiers can run 24/7 without issues, so the run time isn’t a factor to consider. 

Unfortunately, your air purifier can sometimes make you sick. Here are three main scenarios where your air purifier is the culprit:

Ozone Production

Ozone generators are air purifiers that emit ozone intentionally to remove particulates, mold, viruses, and bacteria. Ozone is only partially effective against these pollutants in very high concentrations. Electrostatic precipitators and ionizers are also devices that release ozone, but they do so as a by-product of their function.

Exposure to small or high levels of ozone is toxic to your health. It can irritate and inflame the respiratory system’s lining, causing chest tightness, cough, and shortness of breath. Ozone can also worsen asthma symptoms.

If your air purifier produces ozone as its primary purifying mechanism or by-product, it may make you sick.

Poor Maintenance

Maintaining your air purifier’s “health” enables it to improve yours. It’s vital to clean the area around your device, wash washable filters, and replace non-reusable filters. The filters trap contaminants with every air cleaning cycle, and this trapped material builds up.

If you’re not taking care of your purifier’s filter, it won’t be as efficient, and it’ll leave pollutants in the air.


Where you place an air purifier is just as crucial to its functioning as proper maintenance. If you’re sitting too close to your air purifier, the surrounding air will be full of pollutants. Air purifiers work in reverse to fans – suck contaminated air towards their filters—so if you’re close, all the air garbage comes to you directly.

Also, if you set your device in a corner or around obstacles, it won’t clean the air as it should. With dust, pollen, dander, smoke, and other pollutants remaining in the air, you’ll feel sick sometimes.

Lastly, placing your air purifier in a room that’s too large for its cleaning capacity means it won’t clean up as it should. The pollutants it can’t handle will stay in the air for you to breathe.

To avoid feeling sick when you use an air purifier, avoid ozone-producing models, clean and maintain the device, and place it in an open space (free from obstructions). Also, remember to keep it running 24/7 to enjoy clean air at all times.