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How to Protect Your Indoor Air Quality During Wildfire Season

July 1, 2021

A thick layer of smoke coating the Los Angeles skyline is a sure sign that wildfires are active. Longtime LA residents know that preparing for a wildfire can put your mind at ease and keep your family safe. When the outdoor air quality becomes very poor, local officials may advise residents to stay indoors. That might make you wonder: is the indoor air quality (IAQ) any better than the outside air quality during a wildfire? 

In this blog, we’ll explain more about indoor air quality specifically as it relates to outdoor smoke and wildfires in California. 

Is Indoor Air Any Better than Outdoor Air During a Wildfire?

The reason that officials advise homeowners to stay inside during a wildfire is because most homes in Los Angeles do not have any openings to the outdoors. That means the air inside your home is recirculating continuously.

If you have air conditioning, the fan inside your AC does all the work. The blower pulls indoor air across an air filter and a cooling coil before pushing that refreshingly cold air to your living spaces. 

This recirculation process has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, your home is mostly sealed off from the outdoors. So during a wildfire, your indoor air quality can be better than outside. Here’s the downside: since the air is recirculating, any addition of pollutants to the air will stick around for a while.

So, indoors is definitely better than outdoors during a wildfire. But since you are relying on your home’s air to be clean and healthy to breathe, it’s important to protect – and even improve – your home’s indoor air quality. 

What Can I Do to Improve IAQ During a Wildfire

Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do that will make a big difference during California’s wildfire season: 

  • Check Door and Window Seals – Remember how we said your home is mostly sealed off from the outside? One way that smokey air can make its way into your home is through small cracks and openings. Door stripping and window sealing break down over time, creating holes that allow air inside. A quick trip to the home improvement store to seal air leaks can repair most of these issues. And perhaps it goes without saying: keeping windows and doors closed during a wildfire is paramount. Only open windows and doors if it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Upgrade and Replace Your Air Filter – We normally recommend replacing an air filter every 3-4 months, but if wildfires are rampant, replace them monthly. And don’t be fooled by the color of the air filter – replace air filters before they discolor. Upgrade to the highest efficiency filter your unit can accept, remembering that a filter which is too high of efficiency can cause performance issues for your air conditioner and furnace. If you’re not sure what type of filter is suitable for your HVAC system, call us!
  • In-Duct Air Purifiers are the Real Deal – During the COVID-19 pandemic, room air purifiers grew in popularity. If you own an air purifier, make sure you have it at the ready. But if you’re in the market for one, or if you’re looking to upgrade your air purification game, we strongly recommend a whole-home air purifier. We install these air purification devices inside the ductwork of your HVAC system. This way, as air recirculates through your system it passes through the air purifier – treating every molecule of air inside your home. The Carrier Infinity Air Purifier is the best solution to treat the air in your home and eliminate many pollutants from smoke, to pollen, even to the coronavirus. 

One other recommendation: take care not to generate any new pollutants that dirty up your indoor air. Things like burning candles, spraying room scents, cooking greasy food, and even vacuuming introduce more particulate matter into the air. 

Brody Pennell Can Help Prepare Your Home for Wildfire Season

The IAQ experts at Brody Pennell can offer solutions to improve the health of your home to prepare for the wildfires. We have been serving the LA area for over 75 years, so we know a thing or two about how wildfires impact indoor air quality. Families here trust us because we invest in training our team on the latest industry technology and best practices, which is why we have a sparkling reputation. If you’re ready to get started on your IAQ project, call us at (310) 896-4911.

About The Author

Brody Pennell

Since 1945, Brody Pennell Heating & Air Conditioning is the committed to helping homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area experience total home comfort. In 2021, the readers of the Los Angeles Times voted Brody Pennell the Best HVAC Company in the area.

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