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Chapter 3: What Is an Air Scrubber?

Air scrubbers are used to clean and deodorize areas where unpleasant odors are lingering. They are most typically used to eliminate the smell of smoke after a fire or musty odors that often accompany water damage. Commercial air scrubbers contain a portable filtration system to remove chemicals, particles, odors and gases from the air.

Industrial air scrubbers are designed to draw in air from the surrounding environment and pass it through the filters, effectively scrubbing the air and removing any contaminants. Sometimes, air scrubbers are also called negative air scrubbers or negative air machines. It’s important to note, however, that negative air scrubbers require ducting while industrial air scrubbers do not.

When Should You Use an Air Scrubber?

As a water damage restoration expert, you may need to use commercial scrubbers in addition to your water damage restoration equipment to make sure the property is dry and odor-free.

You may also need to use portable air scrubbers if you are performing a restoration job that may create or disturb hazardous particles such as lead, dust, mold or asbestos. The age of the property and the materials you are drying will help you determine if you should use air cleaning air scrubbers.

How to Choose the Best Air Scrubbers

When choosing the best air cleaning air scrubber, you’ll want to consider these important specifications:

  • Airflow: Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. Air scrubbers are available in 500 to 2,000 CFMs. Models with larger CFMs are larger and heavier than smaller units and may make more noise.
  • Speed: Air scrubbers come in single speed and multi-speed units. It can be nice to have options while in the field to lessen the amount of noise the work generates.
  • Filtration: Without the filtration system, the air scrubber is useless. Proven brands that are known for their effective filtration systems are the best option. All of the air scrubbers offered by Aer Industries use HEPA air filters in their filtration systems. HEPA air filters remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles, this standard is set by the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

airflow speed filtration

Usage Guidelines

An air scrubber is designed to clean the air only, which means that any surfaces may still need to be decontaminated and cleaned even after an air scrubber does its job. Each time you finish using an air scrubber, you need to decontaminate the entire unit and replace the filters to prevent cross-contamination from job to job.

When you bring the air scrubbers to the job site, you should place them in the center of the room. If you are working in larger areas, you may need more than one air scrubber. It’s better to use a couple smaller CFM units rather than one large CFM unit because you may end up with stale air pockets that end up not getting filtered. If possible, using an air mover with an air scrubber will lead to maximum filtration.

Popular Brands of Air Scrubbers

At Aer Industries, we offer several popular brands of air scrubbers, such as:


Frequently Asked Questions About Air Scurbbers:

Q: Should I replace all the filters in my air scrubber at once?

A: The schedule for air scrubber filter replacement is different for each type of filter. Pre-filters should be changed at least once per day, secondary filters every 3-7 days, and HEPA filters every 800 hours. Many professionals replace filters between jobs depending on the severity of the project and the airborne contaminants involved.


Q: Why do I need HEPA filtration in my air scrubber?

A: HEPA filters remove smaller particles from the air than regular air filters do. According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE), filters must remove 99.97% of particles 0.3-micrometers (0.000012-inch) in size from the air in order to meet HEPA filter standards and be labeled as HEPA filters.


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