How Do I Know If My HVAC Filters Wildfire Smoke?

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How Do I Know If My HVAC Filters Wildfire Smoke?

In addition to the devastation caused by the loss of homes and businesses, wildfire season can result in unhealthy air conditions throughout the West.


It can be difficult to keep the air inside your home clean when the outside air is so polluted. Even if you keep your doors and windows closed, as is recommended, air can enter through cracks and leaks. Running the fan on your central heating or cooling system to cycle air through the filter is one way to clear the air.


If you have a good HVAC air filter, it will catch a lot of the smoke in your home.


MERV is an abbreviation for minimum efficiency reporting value, and the higher the value, the more contaminants the filter removes. The best performers typically have a MERV rating greater than 10, and their thickness ranges from 1 inch to 5 inches.


During fire season, you should change your filters more frequently. There are a lot of filthy filters around. They’re becoming more clogged than usual. (Even if you don’t have a lot of smoke, if you’re spending more time indoors due to the pandemic, you should check your filter more frequently.)


Examine the filter to see if it is dirty. You might also notice a decrease in airflow. Both are signs that the filter isn’t cleaning the air properly and that it needs to be replaced. Air filters are available in packs online and at home improvement stores. Some online retailers also provide subscriptions, which allow you to have your supply automatically replenished once a month or whenever you want.


What factors affect indoor air quality?

A wide range of conditions and pollution sources combine to determine indoor air quality in a particular location. These can include:

  • Outdoor environmental conditions, such as levels of pollution and wildfire smoke.
  • Building features, such as insulation, ventilation system, quality and type of windows, and whether or not a building has air conditioning or other air filtration systems.
  • Indoor activities such as cooking, smoking, cleaning, using certain personal care products, caring for pets, and using wood stoves.


According to studies conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor pollution levels can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases much higher. However, when wildfire smoke creates unhealthy air outside, public health officials recommend staying indoors to avoid wildfire smoke’s health risks. When it’s smokey outside, knowing how indoor air compares to outdoor air can help us make better decisions about how to stay healthy as wildfires spread.


What can you do to improve indoor air?


Reduce Other Pollutants

Minimize potential health impacts of smoke by reducing other pollutants in your home, changing the settings on your central cooling systems, and more.


  • Avoid smoking cigarettes, burning candles or incense, using wood stoves, and vacuuming during smoky periods (each of these cause unhealthy particulates to circulate in your indoor air).
  • Run any heating or cooling system in your home or workplace to recirculate to help filter particles out of your indoor air and minimize smoke entering from outside air (make sure to check and replace the filters in your system first!).
  • Build or grow shade around your home to keep cool so that keeping windows shut is easier during smoke.
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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!

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