Wildfires obviously make outdoor air unhealthy to breathe, but they can affect indoor air quality as well. Read on to learn more about wildfires and indoor air quality in Visalia, CA.
How outdoor air can enter your home
In order to prevent outdoor air from carrying particulates from wildfire smoke into your home, it’s important to understand the ways in which it can do so.
Natural ventilation occurs when air is entering your home through open windows and doors. Mechanical ventilation occurs when devices vent air to the outdoors (e.g., bathroom or kitchen fans), or when devices bring in fresh air (e.g., HVAC systems). While ventilation is usually intentional, air can also enter your home through small openings and cracks around closed doors and windows by infiltration.
How to prepare your home for wildfire season
If you live in an area with high wildfire risk, here are some steps that you can take to prepare for fire season:
- Purchase a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency HVAC filter: These will help improve your indoor air quality, especially during a wildfire event. Choose a portable air cleaner that’s sized appropriately for the room in which it’s intended, and make sure it doesn’t produce ozone. Choose a high-efficiency HVAC filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 rating, or as high as your system fan and filter slot can allow.
- Keep your HVAC filter in good condition: If you have a central HVAC system, make sure the filter is in good condition, fits snugly in its slot and is replaced as recommended by the manufacturer. You can also upgrade to a MERV 13 or as high a rating as your system can accommodate.
- Fortify your window seals: If you have a window air conditioner, make sure the seal between it and the window is as tight as possible. The same applies for the seal between the window and the vent kit of a portable air conditioner with two hoses.
- Prepare alternative cooling options: If you have a window air conditioner and it’s not possible to close the outdoor air damper, you’ll need to use other cooling options like a fan in the event of a wildfire. This is also applicable if you have a portable air conditioner with a single hose, which should not be used in smoky conditions.
How to reduce exposure to smoke indoors
To reduce your smoke exposure indoors, keep all windows and doors closed, using fans and air conditioning to stay cool instead. If you have an HVAC system with a fresh air intake, switch it to recirculation mode or close the outdoor intake damper. Only use a window air conditioner if the outdoor air damper can be closed. If you have a portable air cleaner or an HVAC system with a high-efficiency filter installed, run it at the highest speed as often as possible.
Looking for more tips for improving indoor air quality during wildfires in Visalia, CA? McGee Refrigeration can help prepare your home for wildfire season. Contact us today for a consultation with our team!