We often do a post at this time of year to caution people about the potential effects of wildfires during this season in indoor air quality in Irvine, CA. It’s different this time, because California is already in the midst of major wildfires across the state. Although Orange County isn’t dealing with a specific wildfire now, trouble with air quality will spread through large parts of the state, and more fires are always a possibility we need to be aware of.
The Health Hazards of Wildfires
You know that breathing smoke from fires is unhealthy. But the extent of the dangers of wildfires are extensive. Wildfires cause a major increase in outdoor airborne particles and a rise in gaseous air pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde. The effects of these pollutants can spread over an area of thousands of square miles. Studies made of the health impact during wildfires have shown hospital admissions for eye and nose symptoms, respiratory infections, lung inflammation, coughing and wheezing, and more.
What You Can Do to Reduce the Negative Impact on Your IAQ
The most important step to protect you and your loved ones during an air quality alert because of wildfires is to stay indoors at much as possible. Close windows and doors and make sure the interior is as sealed off from the outdoor air as possible. If you have a ventilation system that draws on outside air (such as an energy or heat recovery ventilator), shut it off. During the time you’re indoors, be cautious about activities that will contribute to indoor pollutants such as smoking, cooking, burning candles or incense, or using any unventilated combustion equipment. Your house won’t experience much ventilation during this time, so keep as many additional contaminants as possible from circulating.
Another important step to take is to replace the air filter in your HVAC system. We recommend customers change this filter every one to three months during the year to keep the HVAC system efficient. But when there are wildfires, we suggest changing the current filter immediately. Otherwise, the filter will become congested with unhealthy particles and help to circulate them through the rooms.
We also recommend an air filtration and purification system installation. There is a range of systems to help keep your home’s air cleansed of contaminants during a period when you have to shut the house to the outside. These devices will continue to help your home around the year after the wildfires have ended. Our technicians install mesh filtration systems, which trap larger particles, and electronic air cleaners to target chemicals, smoke, and volatile organic compounds. The air scrubbers we favor can handle multiple types of pollutants.
You’ll need to have professionals handle the selection and installation of these IAQ devices. Store-bought “air purifiers” won’t provide much protection against the majority of contaminants. Our IAQ professionals install whole-house solutions, and we’ll ensure you have the right type and power to do the job necessary.
In the aftermath of wildfire season, you may wish to have duct cleaning done. This isn’t always required, but if you haven’t had duct cleaning in many years, it’s an ideal time to schedule the work.
Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air has proudly served Orange County since 1981. Schedule IAQ services with our team.