Try this inexpensive “churchmade” air filter

Article by the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haugaard, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Waterloo, New York.

In a time when many of us are more aware than ever of air quality inside our buildings, I’d like to share an inexpensive solution that works for our parish. Like many older church buildings, our church building does not have a ventilation system (such as a forced-air furnace) and does not have windows that can be opened. So, much of the air that is in our church building remains there for quite some time.

The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haugaard, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Waterloo, created this inexpensive air filtration device after learning the idea from “This Old House.”

I adapted an inexpensive air-filter idea from “Ask This Old House.” It filters even very small particles from the air and so makes the air healthier for all. I do not use it as a COVID precaution, because the amount of air that is filtered each hour is only a small fraction of the air in our church. But, keeping it running for the 166 hours each week when no one is in the church means that the air is filtered many times between our Sunday services.

The type of filter that you purchase determines the level of filtration. Here are some links to help you understand the capabilities of various filters:

The MIRV 13 filter from 3M is here:

The MIRV 14 filter from 3M is here:

Materials: a piece of cardboard or plywood about 24” x 24”; four 20 x 20 x 1 MIRV 13 or MIRV 14 air filters; a 20 x 20 box fan; duct tape. Several brands of filters can be found on Amazon; the cost of the 3M filters is higher than many others.

Assembly (about 45 minutes the first time I did this; about 20 minutes the second time): Stand the air filters together to form the walls of a 20 x 20 cube (a few pieces of Scotch Tape to hold them together helps a lot); duct tape all the seams of the filters; duct tape the filters to the cardboard; finally, duct tape the fan to the filters (blowing upward). The air is drawn in through the filters and pushed upward by the fan, so there is good air circulation. Duct taping the seams means that all the air pulled in by the fan goes through the filters. We have a large church building and so we keep ceiling fans going throughout the week, meaning, in theory, that a lot of the air in the church is going through the filter. The filters say that they last 3 months.

We sit this filter on a small table in the back of the church during the week. I move it on Sunday morning (it is very light) because it is a bit unsightly, and then put it back on the table after our Sunday service and plug it in.

Showing 4 comments
  • Janet Burrows

    God bless!! A wonderful cost effective method!!

    • Jeff Haugaard

      Thanks, Janet.

  • Barbara Bell

    That’s so clever! I’m thinking of this for my home, too. Thanks for sharing!
    St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

    • Jeff Haugaard

      You’re welcome, Barbara. Using it at home also sounds like a good idea – maybe especially in a basement or other place like that.

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