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January 21st, 2023

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Austin Air Filter FAQs

What is the difference between the HeathMate™ and the Allergy Machine?

The HealthMate has a True Medical grade HEPA filter surrounded by a carbon/zeolite blend which adsorbs odours and gases. The standard HealthMate™ filter weighs approximately 21 lbs (9.5 kg).

The AllergyMachine™ has a HEGA filter comprised of True medical grade HEPA surrounding an advanced military carbon cloth which adsorbs odours and gases. The standard AllergyMachine™ filter weighs approximately 8 lbs (3.6 kg).

Both products are effective for people with allergies and asthma. The HealthMate™is recommended for people with chemical sensitivities. The AllergyMachine™ is recommended for smokers, strong odours and for damp environments.

What is the difference between the Healthmate™ and the HealthMate Plus™?

Both have a Tue medical grade HEPA filter plus granular activated carbon and zeolite. The carbon in the Plus model is impregnated with potassium iodide to make the HealthMate Plus™ more effective at removing formaldehyde and ammonia. The HealthMate Plus™ is recommended for new homes, laboratories, beauty salons, funeral homes. Sources of formaldehyde in homes can be carpeting, wood paneling, construction materials, upholstery and drapery.

Where should I position my Austin Air filter?

Position your Austin air filter at least 4” form walls. For maximum benefit use the air cleaner in your bedroom with the door closed. Standard Austin machines will clean the air in an average bedroom in about 15 minutes with the door closed.

What does HEPA mean?

HEPA stands for ‘High Efficiency Particulate Arresting’. The original HEPA filter was developed by the Atomic Energy Commission during WWII to prevent the spread of airborne radioactive contaminants. Today, true HEPA filters continue to be the most efficient type of air filter. They must meet or exceed the True HEPA standard of trapping 99.97% particles 0.3 microns or larger. A human hair is about 300 times too large to penetrate a HEPA filter. This standard is set by the US Department of Energy.

What does HEGA mean?

HEGA stands for ‘High Efficiency Gas Adsorption’. It is a military grade carbon cloth filter originally developed in Britain as a defense against chemical warfare. HEGA cloth is light weight and extremely efficient at adsorbing gaseous pollutants in conditions unsuitable for granular activated carbon.

What is activated carbon?

Activated carbon is carbon derived from coconut shells treated with a steam process. Activated carbon has enormous surface area available for adsorbing gases and odours due to its micro-porosity. It is the most sought after material for cleaning contaminants from air and water. For instance, it is used in military gas masks.

What is Zeolite?

Zeolites are a special class of micro-porous minerals known as “molecular sieves.” Zeolites have the ability to selectively sort particulate based on a size exclusion process. Zeolites also have exceptional properties for adsorbing gases like formaldehyde, ammonia and carbon monoxide.

What are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

VOCs are organic chemicals that vaporize easily at room temperature into the surrounding air.. VOCs are everywhere, man-made and naturally occurring. Most odours are VOCs. Some VOCs, such as from paint, formaldehyde, artificial fragrances, building materials floor coverings, draperies and plastics are dangerous to our health. Concentrations are highest indoors. Negative health effects develop from long term exposure making symptoms more difficult to link to the cause.

What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)?

Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a chronic disabling condition attributed to low-level chemical exposure. MCS is not recognized by established health associations. Symptoms can be vague and hard to pinpoint. Some characteristic symptoms are headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, inflammation of the skin, joints, gastrointestinaltract and respiratory system.

What is the CFM rate?

The CFM (cubic feet per minute) is the measurement of how much air passes through the unit. The CFM for Austin standard machines is 250 cfm on high speed and 75 cfm on low speed. The CFM for Austin Junior machines is 125 cfm on high speed and 50 cfm on low speed.

Is there a difference between quoted fan rates and the actual cleaned air coming out of an air filter?

Maximum room coverage figures are often exaggerated in the air purification industry by measuring air flow rates without filters installed. Good air purifiers, using true HEPA filters and large amounts of carbon, significantly reduce air flow rate because they provide effective contact time with the filtration media to thoroughly clean contaminated air. Additionally, Austin machines are thoroughly constructed with proper seals to prevent uncleaned air leaking from the machine. Poor quality air filters may leak dirty air which will increase ‘air flow’ but will not improve air quality. Austin Air is fastidious about quality construction and filtration materials for delivering first class, long lasting air purification results.

How many Air Changes per Hour (ACH) do I need my air filter to perform?

‘Air Exchanges per Hour’ (ACH) is a formula used to calculate the how often an air purifier cleans all the air in a room within one hour. People who suffer from allergies, asthma or chemical sensitivities will want at least 4 air exchanges per hour. Six or eight ACH are preferred. At 6 ACH an air purifier set on its highest speed will take 10 minutes to clean the air if no new pollutants are introduced.

What is ‘Clean Air Delivery Rate’ (CADR)?

‘Clean Air Delivery Rate’ (CADR) is a measurement developed by The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Air filter brands can pay to have their machines rated according to this measurement.

CADR does not measure an air purifier’s ability to filter chemical contaminants, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), toxic gases and odours.

Several leading air filter brands, including Austin Air, do not subscribe to CADR because a CADR measurement determines the volume of air ‘purified’ by the machine but does not include an assessment of the machine’s thoroughness at retaining the sub-micron particles it processes.  Improperly sealed air filters can allow significant quantities of contaminated air to escape with outflowing ‘purified’ air. Poorly designed air filters may suck cleaned air right back into the machine rather than sending it out into the room in exchange for air that needs to be cleaned.

Properly sealed air cleaning machines with substantial filtration media will cause air resistance, creating more contact time with the filtration media for more efficient filtration and consequently slowing the Clean Air Delivery Rate.

Another brand of air purifier claims removal of airborne particulate as small as 0.003 micron. Why doesn’t Austin Air claim an equally small micron rating?

Airborne particulate reduction ratings are measured with an air testing gun which is held to the air exiting the machine being tested. The inner components of some air purifiers (not Austin Air machines) contain Styrofoam which has electrostatic properties that skew the readings captured by an air testing gun. This malfunction results in near perfect readings that do not accurately reflect the true capabilities/limitations of the machine being tested.

Why are the type of construction materials used for air purifiers so important for chemically sensitive individuals?

Most air purifiers are made of injection molded plastics which off-gas toxic fumes. Chemically sensitive individuals may have no tolerance for any off-gassing. Austin Air makes every attempt to avoid the use of off-gassing materials in the construction and packaging of their machines. The structure of Austin Air purifiers consists of 22 gauge North-America sourced steel with water-based baked-on paint finish.

About Ozone and Air Filters

Ozone (O3) is a powerful oxidant that is very effective at killing micro-organisms. It is so caustic that it can also damage mucus membranes, lungs and living tissues. Unlike the beneficial ‘ozone layer’ that prevents damaging solar rays from reaching the Earth’s surface, man-made ozone is a potent respiratory hazard. Ozone is produced as a by-product from the action of ultraviolet light, ionizing and electrostatic processes used by some air filter manufacturers. Incomplete oxidation of chemical compounds with ozone may result in the formation of dangerous toxins. For these reasons Austin Air purifiers do not produce or utilize ozone, ionization, electro-static precipitation or ultraviolet light.

Why don’t Austin Air Machines have Remote Sensors and Filter Change-out Alarms?

Typically these added air filter features do not have the ability to measure the quality of the air that has passed through the machine or the present condition of the air filter. They are based on time and may encourage premature filter replacement.

Sensors that can measure the existing condition of the air filter are significantly more sophisticated and adding considerable expense to the cost of an air filter, an expense that is passed on to the consumer.

Most sensors come with indicator lights. The most efficient place to position an air filter is in the bedroom. Sensor lights are often unwelcome in a bedroom at night.

For these reasons, Austin Air does not include lights, sensors, timers, alarms or remotes with Austin machines.

How do I know when to replace my Austin Air filter?

Austin Air filters should be changed every 5 years or sooner if used in challenging circumstances.
Replace your Austin Air filter whenever the first of these conditions occurs:

What causes shortened filter life?

Some possible causes are new carpeting, new construction, paint fumes, heavy smoking, urban pollution, chemical-producing activities and lots of pets.

Can Austin Air Filters clean up advanced mold and mildew?

No air filter, whether it be Austin or some other brand, can get rid of advanced mold and mildew conditions. Remediation at the source of the problem is needed before installing an air filter.

What are Austin Air prefilters made of?

Austin PermaFilt prefilters are made of cotton.

What is the Austin Air Return Policy?

From date of purchase (from WaterMatters) the customer has 30 days to contact WaterMatters in order to obtain a Return Authorization. WaterMatters would then obtain a Return Authorization Number from Austin Air. The unit would be shipped back to Austin Air (Ontario) by and at the expense of the customer. Original shipping expenses would also become the customer’s expense. Upon return of the unit to Austin Air, WaterMatters would then issue credit to the customer.