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How to Make an Improvised Air Filter from a Box Fan

California is experiencing some trouble lately. Wildfires are growing out of control and the local air is getting increasingly toxic. But what do you do if you can’t get a hold of an air purifier? Fortunately, there’s a popular make-shift solution: Box fan filters.

The concept is simple, put an air filter against a box fan.

Ok, it’s not exactly that simple, but it’s not much harder, either. If you need an improvised way to clean and filter the air, you can place an air filter intended for a home air system against a box fan and it will help filter particulates out of the immediate area.

But for any good How-To, there’s instructions. So here’s how to build an improvised box fan filter.

  1. Acquire Box Fan. It would be good to keep one at home anyway, but you might be able to buy one from a local store. Just keep in mind that supplies might be low from other people doing the same.
  2. Acquire an Air Filter. The quality and filter power is up to you. The important thing is that the filter is a good size for the fan. Ideally, it should be the same size and shape.
  3. Place Filter Along Against the Fan. Some folks prefer to place the filter in front of the fan. Some say to place behind. Personally, I prefer behind. Both sides are effective though. 
  4. Make Sure it’s Facing the Right Way. Air filters have designations as to which way the air should flow. Make sure this matches the intended airflow of the fan.
  5. Secure to Fan. Some people made plastic clips to hold the filter down. I’ve seen DIY wooden boxes too. Last time I had to do this, I just duct taped the hell out of it to ensure a secure fit. It works just fine.

Does an Improvised Box Fan Filter Work?

According to a test performed by a writer for the Smart Air Filters Blog, these improvised fans absolutely work. They managed to reduce the particle levels in the air from Unhealthy to Safe in less than two hours.

That said, there are a few things to consider. The first is that this is an improvised air cleaning system. You should not rely on this entirely for your air cleaning needs. When you can manage a more reliable and efficient system, you should. This is intended as an answer to a complicated time. Don’t expect the fan to last for very long, either. This process puts extra stress on an already kinda weak motor. Don’t expect it to perform at peak airflow afterwards.

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