5 Tips to Safeguarding Indoor Air Quality During Wildfire Season

The forest fire season in Canada has been getting more prolonged and intense. This year, the Government of Canada expects a high risk of wildfires across much of the country due to ongoing drought conditions, especially in northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia. With fires becoming more frequent and severe, HVAC contractors must ensure their customers are ready to handle poor air quality.

Forest fire smoke contains minute particles that can lead to health problems, including coughing, headaches, dizziness, chest pain, and even heart palpitations. Running air conditioning in recirculating mode during wildfire season filters out harmful particles, improving indoor air quality (IAQ). However, an AC system’s effectiveness in improving IAQ depends on how well it’s maintained. Proactive measures to ensure HVAC systems are in top condition this wildfire season are essential for protecting indoor air.

With the increasing threat of fire, new tools and technologies have emerged to help improve IAQ:

Advanced air filtration systems: Activated carbon filters are designed to remove smoke and odors effectively.

Smart thermostats and IAQ monitors: These devices can alert homeowners and HVAC professionals to poor air quality and system performance issues, allowing for timely interventions.

Steps to protect against smoke

Proper HVAC maintenance should be a year-round activity. Still, there are specific steps you can take ahead of wildfire season to ensure your customers’ AC systems are ready to protect against smoke and poor air quality. Here are five of them:

  1. Air filter inspection and replacement: Replace air filters several times throughout the year, especially before and during wildfire season. Using a HEPA filter can capture up to 99% of particulate matter.
  2. Unit cleaning: Clean evaporator and condenser coils to remove debris, dust, and ash. Cover the unit when not in use to keep it cleaner for longer.
  3. Ductwork inspection: Thoroughly inspect the ductwork for leaks or damage. Sealing leaks and repairing damage prevents polluted air from entering the system.
  4. System performance check: Monitor the system’s overall performance, ensuring it cools effectively, has strong airflow, and shows no unusual signs like noises or smells.
  5. Ensure the recirculation setting is operational: Check that the recirculation setting is on and working correctly to prevent the AC from drawing in outdoor air containing smoke particles.

In addition to performing maintenance, you can educate customers about IAQ during wildfire season. This includes:

Keeping windows and doors closed: Customers should be advised to keep their homes sealed during periods of severe smoke or polution.

Regular follow-up maintenance: Schedule follow-up check-ins during wildfire season to ensure systems remain effective.

Upgrading systems: Encourage customers to upgrade to newer, more efficient AC systems that offer better filtration and IAQ management.

By offering proactive and regular check-ups to your customers, they will maintain better indoor air quality.

 

 

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