Should I Run My AC During Fire Season?
Every year, wildfires destroy over 5 million acres of land, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. During the summer months in the United States, wildfires are a major concern. A small event, such as a lightning strike or a spark from a car’s wheel, can start a fire on a hot summer day. Fires can spread at up to 15 miles per hour, consuming brush, trees, and plants quickly.
Wildfires frequently produce a large amount of smoke in the atmosphere. Because smoky conditions are directly related to air quality and can make people sick, it is best to stay as indoors as possible. Running your HVAC system will keep you cool on hot summer days. Fortunately, using your air conditioner when the outside air quality is poor is completely safe. More information on using your HVAC system when it’s smoky outside can be found below:
Breathing Smoky Air Can Cause Health Problems
According to the Centers for Disease Control, inhaling smoky air caused by wildfires can irritate your airways and is particularly dangerous for infants, the elderly and individuals with heart or lung disease. Inhaling smoky air can cause the following health issues:
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Itchy, stinging eyes
- Sore throat
- Running nose
- Sinus issues
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
This is not a comprehensive list of all the health problems associated with inhaling smoky air and you may experience severe or mild symptoms. It is advised to stay indoors as much as possible when the air quality outside is poor.
Using Your Air Conditioner in Smoky Weather is Safe
If you’re like most people, you’re concerned that running your HVAC system while it’s smokey outside will bring smoke and other harmful pollutants into your home. Even if wildfires are particularly severe in your area, experts say it is safe to run your HVAC system in smoky conditions.
When your unit is turned on, the air circulating inside your home is not replaced with fresh air from outside. Air conditioners, on the other hand, exchange air by using a coolant mechanism to absorb the heat inside your home. The unit’s fan then draws in the heat and expels it outside. At no point during the process does outside air enter the house. As a result, smoky air and pollutants from the outside are unable to contaminate the air inside your home.
How to Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke
1. Be Aware of Particles in the Air
Particles accompany smoke. These airborne particles are emitted by a wildfire as it burns the wood and surrounding environment. Many people believe that if they can’t see any smoke, they are safe. This is simply not true. The naked eye can only see a dense cluster of smoke particles. Smoke particles that have dispersed are microscopic and therefore invisible. Worse, these tiny particles are easily inhaled and can enter your lung tissue and other organs.
Wildfire smoke causes a variety of serious health issues, so it’s best to stay indoors and keep your windows closed to avoid breathing in these toxins. If you live in a wildfire-prone area, investing in one of the best home air quality monitor units is a good idea. Air quality monitors measure and detect various types of pollutants in the air and can alert you to toxicity levels so you can take appropriate remedial action.
2. Use an Air Purifier to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
When the outside air quality is poor, you want your indoor air quality to be as clean as possible. An easy way to do this is to purchase an air purifier and let it run in the rooms you use the most.
Air purifiers are the only devices that are officially designed to remove smoke particles from the air around you. They’re also great at removing other pollutants from your home’s indoor air, such as dust and allergens, and can clean the air you breathe up to 99.97 percent of the time. These devices work by filtering the air in a room and circulating it through a series of filters. Bad particles, such as smoke, are trapped, and clean air is reintroduced into the room for you to breathe.
3. Use an Air Conditioner to Circulate the Air
Although an air conditioner is not made to purify the air, the design does offer some air filtering qualities. All air conditioners use a filter to trap dust and other particles from getting into the system and damaging it. Therefore, if you run this system when wildfire smoke is present outdoors, it can eliminate some of the particles that may have traveled inside your home.
As long as you keep your filters clean, it should help to reduce the amount of smoke particulate matter in the air, but it really is no match for a dedicated air purifier.
4. Keep Your Home Airtight
You may be tempted to open the windows and let the fresh air in, but this is a quick way to degrade the quality of your indoor air. This is especially true if you live in or near a wildfire (100 miles or less). To stay safe, keep your windows closed and limit the number of times you open and close outside access doors. As previously stated, an air purifier can help filter out any smoke particles that do make their way inside. Small steps like this can go a long way toward improving your indoor air quality.
5. Have an Escape Route
Nobody wants to think about a wildfire breaking out in their neighborhood, but it’s critical to have an escape plan and route in place just in case it does. For information on shelters, insurance, and transportation options, contact your state’s emergency services office. If you have pets, make a plan to relocate them as well, and ask your local vet’s office if they have safe accommodations to house them temporarily.
Are you Worried About Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) During Fire Season?
You don’t have to worry about your home’s IAQ this season if you call Superior Mechanical Services today for high-quality air conditioning service. We’re here not only during wildfire seasons but also after they’ve passed, so you can rest assured that we’ll take care of any concerns or problems while providing peace of mind knowing our team is onsite if needed in future years. As the effects of wildfire season continue throughout Northern California many homeowners find themselves feeling less comfortable due to smoke and other toxic particles that can enter through even seemingly tight structures. Superior Mechanical Services, Inc. began in 1948 as a family-owned business with a vision to provide value-minded service with a down-to-earth approach to customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. As the premier Commercial and Residential HVAC Service provider for Livermore, Dublin, and Pleasanton, Superior Mechanical can do it all, from heating and air conditioning services to boiler services, to plumbing services. Our technicians are certified professionals who will ensure every part of your project is done right using a careful checklist to guide and test each step. Contact us today for help ensuring your home’s IAQ stays healthy and clean every day of the year, regardless of the season!