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“Dell” room air filtration system

November 28, 2005

Middle-son’s room is in our basement, and while he was away a clogged downspout caused some water to leak in.  The room is hardly tidy, and a lot of paper got wet.  I cleaned up as much of it as my lungs could stand, then promptly forgot about it until it was time for him to visit.  Unfortunately the room now had a serious air-quality problem.

Another marathon cleaning session brought the room to the brink of habitability, but the smell of mold still permeated the air.  What to do?

Big room air “filtration systems” were $200, and didn’t impress me as moving that much air:

  1. Start with a Dell computer box from recycle bin

  2. Cut open one side, leaving narrow flanges for taping to air filter
  3. Cut round opening for 115V Nidec Alpha V fan cannibalized from old mainframe (I have several of these; don’t you?)
  4. Mount fan in exhaust position (blowing out from box interior), and wire with cord from discarded vacuum cleaner (on curb, trash-day)
  5. Seal 3M Filtrete Ultimate filter ($15) in place with duct tape, in orientation for airflow into box
  6. Total cost, $15 and ten feet of duct tape.  Plug in and enjoy clean air. 

The Alpha V fan moves 105 CFM, which in a room with about 1,300 ft3 works out to a filtered air-change about every 13 minutes.  Of course, it isn’t that simple due to turbulence but still it’s good circulation.  After it had been running 4 hours, the room no longer smelled like mold, so I’d say it did the job OK. 

Middle-son left it running during his whole visit, and took it home with him when he left.  Guess I’ll build another one and keep it running down there.  After all, he is planning to visit again over Christmas.  :-)

If you don’t have an old mainframe cooling fan, a cheap clip-on fan would work too.

Categories: Safety & Health
  1. November 29, 2005 at 09:22 | #1

    The phrase necessity is the mother of invention comes to mind!  Fantasic DoF!

  2. WeeDram
    November 29, 2005 at 12:59 | #2

    Nice try, but you’ll have to do better if you expect a casting call to The Red Green Show.

    First, you’ll need the box from a fridge.  This will accommodate more filters, of course (even multi-stage filtering), but more importantly the big-ass whole-house fan … you know, the one about 1 meter in diameter that you put in the attic to suck air up through the entire house.

    Second, the whole rig needs to be powered by a junked K car with no axles or wheels, but with a really long belt attached to the K car as a PTO.

    If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

  3. Humble Dumpster Diver
    December 2, 2005 at 16:01 | #3

    Hey I happen to have 2 of these fan’s and I wanted to use one to help cool my computer and now, the other to build one of those filters, but I’m lost on where to find a power cable for them, these things are anchient mind sending me an email or telling me here where to find the cables?

  4. December 2, 2005 at 18:14 | #4

    That would be a good case mod – with one of these fans in it, your PC will never overheat!  The design of the cord for these fans has not changed in decades.  Assuming you have a 115v ac fan, you probably need a “muffin fan cord” available at Electronics Plus for about four bucks plus shipping.  Or if you are handy with a soldering iron, you could solder on any cord (from a discarded toaster or vacuum cleaner) and away you go.

    Not sure if that link will work – if not you can search their site for “muffin” and the muffin fan power cords are about halfway down.

    “Dumpster Diver” = :-)

  5. Humble Dumpster Diver
    December 2, 2005 at 23:39 | #5

    Thanks, I have some connector’s from the contraption I ripped them out of

    It was made from an old 2 fan + 2 wall socket thing I found in a coca cola plant a friend of mine got me an old “mixer server” that they were throwing away…

    I kinda unplugged stuff and forget where it was supposed to go, you know :P

    Thanks man, I’ve got some connectors that should work and power cords I can rig up.

    I have the exact same fan you have in the dell box, and I was looking for a plain AC cord for it.

  6. February 23, 2008 at 15:53 | #6

    Cool, I should buy one

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