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6 Indoor Air Quality Tips to Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke

Jacobs technician installing a Carrier furnace

During a wildfire, outdoor smoke can enter residential homes and buildings, making it unhealthy, difficult, and potentially harmful to breathe air indoors. Fine particles found in smoke can cause respiratory issues, burning eyes, and runny noses for all individuals, regardless of age or health risk. Although it may difficult to completely block out the heavy smoke and ash during a wildfire, here are several helpful tips to improve the indoor air quality in your home.

1) Keep All Windows and Doors Closed

Smoke can enter residential homes and buildings through open doors or windows, as well as cracks or holes commonly found in windows, doors, or any other type of opening. As a result, it is best practice to keep your doors and windows closed at all times, especially if you live close to a wildfire, to minimize the amount of outdoor air coming inside.

2) Check and Change Your HVAC Filter

middle aged man installing a filter to hvac unit

A good rule of thumb is if you cannot see light through the filter, then it is essential that you replace it immediately. This also applies to disposable filters. The purpose of HVAC air filters is to filter and trap dust, smoke, and other small particles out of the air so you and your loved ones can easily breathe clean purified air. Over time, the filter will get full and dirty and will need to be changed regularly to ensure that it can properly trap small particles. If you already have or are looking to purchase an HVAC filter, it’s important to choose a high-efficiency filter with a high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating. Our highly trained team can help you choose the right filter for your home.

Read next: How Often Should I Change My Air Filter?

3) Turn on Your Central AC

We highly recommend turning on your central AC (air conditioning) to keep the air fresh, cool, and circulating throughout your home. If you only have a furnace, make sure to run the fan and set it to ON and not AUTO. When the fan is on, it will continuously run without stopping, whereas auto means that the fan only runs when the system is actively cooling. Additionally, when there is a wildfire in your area, make sure to not turn on the heat.

4) Keep Dampers and Registers Open in Unused Rooms

We recommend keeping dampers and registers open, even in unused rooms. The supply vents where air comes through may have dampers or registers on them to adjust the airflow coming into each room. Leaving the dampers or registers open is ideal because it not only drastically reduces unwanted static pressure in the system but it can also help circulate fresh air throughout the home.

5) Minimize Cooking Oils, Fumes, and Odors

It is preferential to minimize the use of cooking oils, fumes, and odors when there is a fire nearby to reduce the amount of smoke circulating through your home.

6) Wear Respirator Masks

mom and her two daughters wearing respirator masks at home

Wearing N95 and P100 respirator masks can help reduce the likelihood of inhaling smoke and ash. When worn properly, the respirator mask should have a good fit and seal.

Jacobs Heating Can Help Provide Indoor Air Recommendations

Our specialized and highly trained team can help you find the right HVAC system specifically for your home, as well as provide the best recommendations for indoor air quality. We can send a service technician to your home to give you an estimate, install an HVAC unit, change the filter, clean your ducts, and much more. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

About the Author

Amanda Jacobs portrait

Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.