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How To Circulate Air in a Room

Last updated January 9, 2023

Based in Manchester, Marie is one of the writers at HouseFresh and our resident dust expert. She works together with our in-house researchers and our Managing Editor to produce in-depth articles offering practical advice on how to tackle indoor air quality issues.

Our verdict:

Indoor air pollution is a significant concern and can lead to various health problems. However, one of the best ways to tackle the issue is to get the air circulating in your room. 

You can do many things to increase ventilation, such as opening doors and windows, creating cross-breezes, using fans and making the most of your HVAC system. Using an air purifier with a powerful fan and high CADR score will also significantly help improve airflow while also cleaning the air simultaneously.

Most of us know that uncomfortable feeling of being in a stuffy, airless room. Yet as well as feeling unpleasant, indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor, and a lack of ventilation can have serious health effects. As well as negatively impacting concentration, poor airflow can increase harmful pollutants such as mold, fungi and dust, leading to a rise in allergies and asthma symptoms. 

When you add in things like cooking, smoking and even cleaning activities that can release unhealthy airborne particles, the hazards of indoor air pollution become all the more apparent. 

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be found in aerosol sprays, cleansers and wood preservatives and can cause eye, nose and throat irritations. The simple truth is that indoor air pollution leads to “millions of deaths each year,” according to the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health.

However, one advantage (if you can call it that) of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many people and organizations have at least become aware of the importance of good ventilation

The other bit of good news is that there are lots of things you can do to improve air circulation. We’ll give you the lowdown on effective ways to circulate the air in your home, such as using fans and opening windows and doors. We’ll also look at how air purifiers can further help to improve ventilation. 

10 Ways To Circulate the Air in Your Home 

We’ve scoured the internet (and our own expertise) to bring you ten surefire ways to get the air moving in your home. Let’s get going: 

1. Open doors and windows to bring fresh air inside

Yes, it may seem obvious, but the benefits of opening doors and windows to let in fresh, outdoor air are enormous. It may not always be possible to open them widely, so rest assured that even just opening them a crack will help. Ideally, create a cross breeze by opening windows across from each other to allow more fresh air to flow inside your home.  

2. Remove obstructions from windows

If you’re following tip one and opening windows, you’ll struggle to get much air circulating if your windows are obstructed. Heavy curtains covering windows, chairs and bookshelves near them can prevent adequate circulation. Aim to remove obstructions so that you can maximize airflow. Finding another place for heavy or bulky items can help to make a difference. 

Pro tip: If possible, scale back on the amount of furniture you have in general. Stockpiling a lot of furniture in a room will make your space feel stuffier.

3. Limit how many people visit your home 

Although this isn’t always practical, restricting the number of visitors to your home will help to keep the air circulating. Virus particles have a greater chance of accumulating the more people there are in your home, and the longer they stay.

Pro tip: If possible, hold gatherings in large rooms or spaces and aim to keep visits short.

4. Use fans to increase and improve airflow

Fans are one of the best ways to circulate the air in your room. Placing a fan close to an open window and facing outwards will help to create cross ventilation. Yet even if you can’t open a window, fans will still help airflow. 

There is a wide range of fans available, aside from a basic model; you could also try one or a combination of these:

  • Ceiling — Placed in the middle of the room, this will help create an air current that will significantly help to increase airflow.
  • Box — You can place these near a window; they’re a powerful way to ventilate a space.
  • Tower — These fans tend to be quieter than box fans, and their slim build means they can fit into narrow spaces.
Pro tip: Remember always to point fans away from people. It can be hazardous to point fans toward people as they can blow contaminated air directly toward them.

5. Turn on exhaust fans

As with using fans around your home, utilizing the exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen can also help to boost airflow by moving air outside via their vents. While some stove exhaust fans don’t send air outside, switching them on will still prevent harmful particles from being concentrated in one place as it redistributes them around the room.

Pro tip: If you have visitors in your home, leave the exhaust fans on for an hour after your guests have left, as this will help remove virus particles that might be lingering in the air.

6. Use a dehumidifier

Humidity can be a significant problem with your room’s air quality and circulation. If there is too much moisture in your environment, then using a dehumidifier can help decrease it and improve the condition of the air. These devices filter the air and extract moisture through cooling coils, facilitating air circulation. Humidifiers may also help to combat mold and mildew problems and alleviate allergy symptoms such as sneezing and eye irritation.

Pro tip: You can choose a dehumidifier for small rooms like a bathroom, or find a model that will cover larger rooms and even the whole house.

7. Check and clean your home’s air ducts

If your home’s air ducts are clogged, unfortunately, you’ll always be pumping grimy air full of dirt and dust through your home. Clogged ducts will decrease the airflow rate, so clean your home’s air ducts occasionally to keep clean air circulating.

Pro tip: Watch out for leaking ducts, as these will not only cause a reduction in airflow but can also let conditioned air escape. 

8. Run your HVAC system

While your HVAC system is excellent for heating or cooling your room, you can simply switch on the fan to keep the air moving. Setting the system on fan mode enables it to draw air through the filter and clean it before it goes back into your home. When you have visitors, set the fan to the “on” position instead of just “auto”. This means the fan will run continuously, even if the heating or air conditioning is switched off.

Pro tip: Pleated filters are the most efficient for improving airflow compared to ordinary furnace filters. You can buy these from hardware stores and either change them by following the manufacturer’s instructions or contact a professional for help.

9. Consider installing an air exchanger

Air exchangers work by connecting to your HVAC system’s ductwork. They use fans to remove stale indoor air from your home and pull in fresh air from outside. Before the outdoor air enters your home, it passes through a filter that captures and traps pollutants. They literally exchange stale air for fresh air!

Air exchangers not only help to improve air quality but also decrease indoor humidity, reduce odors and minimize the chance of mold and mildew growth.

Pro tip: Be sure to change the filter when necessary to ensure the exchanger continues to supply fresh and clean outdoor air.

10. Get an air purifier 

Another powerful method for circulating the air in your home is to use an air purifier. Essentially, air purifiers draw in air and capture harmful airborne particles so that fresh, clean air can be released back into your space by the fan. 

Pro tip: While all purifiers have fans to clean the air, you can buy devices that act as a purifier and a fan. Check out our article for a detailed look at which air purifier + fan combos work and the ones we recommend.

How Do Air Purifiers Circulate the Air? 

If you attempt to Google “air purifiers”, you may get a little overwhelmed by how they work – and by all the technical jargon. Most units use a combination of filters, such as carbon and HEPA, to work effectively.

Alongside filters, the fan is another crucial component of a purifier. Without efficient airflow provided by the fan, the filters would struggle to purify the air in your space. Yet different purifiers come with varying capabilities of the fan. A device with a powerful fan will circulate and clean the air more effectively than one with a weaker fan.

But how do you determine the power of a purifier’s fan? Well, it all comes down to the CADR rating of the device. Standing for Clean Air Delivery Rate, the CADR is an independent score that measures how well a purifier will clean the air based on the size of your room. The score is given in cubic feet per minute (CFM), indicating the purifier’s airflow. 

The higher the CADR, the more effectively and quickly it will purify the air. If all of this sounds a bit much, then don’t worry because you can check out our guide on the best purifiers with high CADR.

Final Thoughts

The facts and statistics surrounding indoor air pollution may seem worrying (and rightly so), but being proactive in improving airflow throughout your home should help to put your mind at ease. You can easily open windows and doors regularly, which will massively help increase ventilation. You can also utilize your HVAC system and consider installing an air exchanger. Using fans and an air purifier (or a combination of the two) will further help ensure that the air inside your room is healthy and clean.


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