4 Easy Tests to Determine If Your Air Purifier Is Working

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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Key Takeaways

  • You can conduct airflow, filter, air quality performance, and odor tests to determine if your air purifier is working.
  • Most quality air purifiers have at least a single illuminating indicator for alerting you to filter issues. Others have multiple lights indicating different problems. 
  • An air purifiers performance can be impacted if it is obstructed, is not placed in the correct location, has a dirty filter, or has other malfunctions.

You’ve bought your air purifier and set it up in your home, but how do you know it’s working?

Your air purifier plays a crucial role in improving the air quality of your home by eliminating harmful pollutants – as long as it’s working effectively.

I get asked all the time how to check to see if an air purifier is working since air pollutants aren’t visible to the naked eye.

To answer those questions once and for all, I’ll provide some helpful tips below to guarantee that your air purifier is doing its job effectively.

Signs Your Air Purifier Is Not Working

The first thing I tell people to do who think there’s been a decline in their air quality is to look at their machine to see if any lights are illuminated.

The filter service indicator alerts you to problems with a dirty filter, and other lights can alert you to a malfunctioning fan or poor air quality.

While serious problems should be handled by a professional, you can perform a few tests on your own to troubleshoot the issue.

If you’re unsure how to tell if your air purifier is working, try these simple tests to find out.

1. Airflow Test

The biggest problem I see with air purifiers is a lack of airflow. Air purifiers, whether portable or whole-home, work by pulling air in from the environment, filtering out pollutants and contaminants, and releasing clean air back into the room.

If you notice a lack of airflow from your air purifier, first make sure your purifier isn’t shoved in the corner, against a wall, or have anything blocking the vents that could hinder the airflow. I see this a lot, but luckily it’s a very easy fix.

A lack of airflow could also be due to a faulty fan or a clogged air intake. Regularly checking and cleaning the air intake is crucial to ensure smooth airflow.

If your air intake is clogged, it may be a sign that the filter needs to be changed soon. Checking the filter’s condition when you inspect the airflow can help determine if it’s time for a replacement. Keep in mind that the filter’s lifespan can vary depending on the specific model and frequency of use.

2. Filter Test (Mold, Dust, Particles)

Speaking of filters, your air purifier, whether portable or whole-house, utilizes a filter to collect dust, mold, dirt, and other particles in the air. Unfortunately, these particles can accumulate over time and can clog the filter.

Some purifiers have a filter service indicator that will let you when your filter needs to be replaced, but you should also check manually.

To determine if the purifier is working or a filter needs changing, start by checking the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacement frequency. If the filter appears dirty or blocks the light when held up to a light source, it’s likely time for a replacement.

Testing the air quality with an air quality monitor can also help determine if it needs changing.

If you need a new HEPA filter, it’s a simple fix that you might be able to do on your own. However, if you’d prefer a professional to do it, you can call your local maintenance specialist, and someone can look at it for you.

3. Air Quality Performance Test

Conducting an air quality check is crucial to ensure your purifier is working. Poor air quality can indicate malfunctioning air purifiers or a need for a filter replacement.

Using an air quality monitor is one of the simplest ways to perform this test. If you experience allergies or other respiratory problems, owning an air quality monitor is really helpful in keeping tabs on your indoor air quality.

4. Odor Test

Air purifiers are great for eliminating unpleasant smells, especially pet odors.

However, if you’re not seeing any improvement in indoor air quality despite using an air purifier, there might be an issue with the unit. Or, you might have selected the wrong size for your space.

To get the best results, make sure you have the correct size air purifier for your area. For instance, a single-room air purifier won’t be able to purify the indoor air of a larger space, so check the manufacturer’s specifications.

What To Do If My Air Purifier Is Not Working Properly?

Luckily, many issues with air purifiers can be fixed with simple solutions that don’t require expensive repairs or replacements. Once you’ve identified the problem, there are steps you can take to quickly fix the issue and get your air purifier up and running again.

The Indoor Air Quality Is Terrible

If the air quality in your room is bad, you probably need to change the filter in your air purifier. But before you do, make sure you have the right size air purifier for your space. If it’s too small, it won’t do the job properly. If you aren’t sure what size to get, check the manufacturer’s recommendations. You can also talk to someone like me to determine the best fit for your needs.

Dust Has Built Upon The Filters

To keep your air purifier running smoothly, it’s crucial to keep the filter clean. If there’s a lot of dust buildup on the filter, it should be cleaned or replaced. This will help the air flow more freely through the unit and keep the air quality in your space fresh and healthy.

You should also regularly dust your room to help your air purifier do its job. This will minimize the dust on surfaces and in the air, leading to better air quality in your room.

Objects Are Blocking The Air Intake & Outlet

To help your air purifier do its job, make sure nothing is blocking its intake and outlet. Keep your purifier a few inches away from the wall, regularly clean the area around it, and avoid placing it too close to furniture or other objects. This allows air to flow in and out smoothly, which will help your purifier improve the air quality in your space.

The Air Purifier Is Close To The Corner

To maximize the effectiveness of your air purifier, you should put it in an area with ample airflow, like a doorway or near a hallway. If it’s put in a corner or against a wall, the amount of air it can take in will be limited, diminishing its ability to purify the air in your space.

Putting your air purifier in a location with maximum airflow allows it to work optimally and provide the cleanest air possible.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How long do air purifiers usually last?

How long an air purifier lasts will vary depending on the brand, model, and usage. Generally, most air purifiers can last anywhere from 3 to 10 years with proper maintenance and care.

How often should you replace the air filter?

You should replace the filter in your air purifier every 6 to 12 months, depending on the model and usage.

How long does it take an air purifier to work?

The time it takes for an air purifier to work can vary depending on factors like the size of the room, the type of pollutants present, and the strength of the purifier. You should typically notice an improvement in air quality within a few hours to a few days.

Do I need an air quality monitor?

You do not necessarily need an air quality monitor. However, air quality monitors can be helpful to track and analyze the air quality in your space to ensure your purifier is working.


I’ve seen firsthand the remarkable improvement air purifiers make to the air quality of homes and offices. Unfortunately, I’ve also run into many people who worry their air purifier isn’t performing as effectively as it should.

Fortunately, the tips above can help you diagnose any problems and ensure your air purifier is firing on all cylinders. With just a few minutes of your time, you can have complete confidence in the fact that you are breathing in cleaner and fresher air.

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Josh Mitchell


Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

My Favorite Home Appliance?

Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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