Keep your Northern California home safer from wildfire smoke and air contaminants.
In this article we’re going to touch on the basics of wildfire, then talk about how to protect your home from wildfire smoke – keeping the indoor air quality higher and safer than it’s likely to be outdoors.
As Northern California’s HVAC experts, this topic hits extremely close to home for all Service Champion employees and management, so let’s jump right in.
The Typical Makeup of Wildfire Smoke
Smoke is nothing good, that’s for sure. Assuming the smoke is only composed of natural organic plant material and not toxic chemicals or building materials, the smoke is a developing, moving complex mixture of:
- Various Gases
- Heated Water Vapor
- Plenty of Carbon Dioxide
- Ash from burned and burning material
- Other wildfire-related fine particles
If homes and human structures are burning as well, then there’s no telling what you could be breathing.
The 3 Ways Wildfire Smoke Gets into Your Home
If your area is being hit with wildfire smoke but isn’t under direct threat of fire and you’re not being evacuated (or there’s no evacuation order), you’ll be asked to stay indoors.
This is when it becomes important to keep your indoor air quality as high and as free from smoke as possible. Good news = there’s only three ways it can get in that you need to keep tabs on. The issue is NOT to wait until one or more is faltering to do something about it!
- Natural Ventilation: Count your windows and exterior doors – these are the natural ways smoke will get in. Keep them closed tight and ensure they’re properly sealed.
- Mechanical Ventilation: Now we’re talking about all the ventilation systems in your home, or HVAC (a Service Champions specialty). These are located throughout the home, in each room and work to circulate air flow, both recycled and fresh.
- Infiltration (Holes): This includes any and all other possible ways smoke would infiltrate the home – wall & window cracks, holes in walls, joint problems, degraded sealing or unsealed areas, critter and animal damage, framing gaps, etc.
Remember, if you aren’t a specialist it is absolutely worth it to have your home inspected. This way each of those three pathways can be professionally addressed, fixed if needed, and upgraded when necessary.
Now let’s look at the core tips all California homeowners should become well-acquainted with. There are some follow up resources at the bottom if you’d like to know more.
Helpful & Effective Tips: Keep Wildfire Smoke Out of Your Home
- Keep central-ducted AC & heating systems CLOSED, set to circulate indoor air without bringing in anything from outside. Be sure you know how to do this.
- Use high-quality, high-efficiency filters and keep them CLEAN. Check well before the beginning of each year’s wildfire season (can be considered year round now).
- Try and avoid running swamp coolers or using fans if at all possible and you don’t need to cool off – these include smaller portable fans and overhead fans.
- Consider a powerful air scrubbing product. We install models with ActivePure technology to “destroy up to 99% of all surface and airborne contaminants.” Up to 3,000 sq. ft.
- In case of power outages, have a powerstation/generator and portable charger to keep air quality products running and keep your communication devices charged.
- Don’t make air quality worse during these events – avoid smoking, using stoves, furnaces, or aerosol products, and vacuuming or burning candles (smokeless are great).
These methods can keep your air quality high, keep smoke out of your lungs and home, and reduce the amount of smoke smell you have to deal with after the threat has passed. Below are some links to checklists and further information, but please do not hesitate to contact Service Champions for any and all questions regarding your indoor air quality.
Additional Downloadable Educational Resources