How to Run Your HVAC and Protect Your Indoor Air from Wildfire Smoke in Columbus

As fires in Canada send wildfire smoke down into the Columbus area, outdoor air quality has been rather poor lately. It’s important to know how to run your Columbus air conditioning system and protect your indoor air from smoke. Poor air quality can lead to a range of negative health effects, from respiratory problems to cardiovascular issues, so taking the necessary precautions to keep your indoor air clean is crucial.

At Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we’re dedicated to helping homeowners in Columbus, Ohio maintain a comfortable and healthy living space despite smoky conditions. We’ve put together this guide to help you run your HVAC system to minimize indoor air pollution and protect your home and family's health from wildfire smoke.

Air Quality Issues from Smoke Events

Wildfire smoke not only poses a threat to outdoor air quality levels, but it can also infiltrate indoor spaces, leading to severe indoor air pollution. Smoke from wildfires can contain a wide range of particulate matter, such as ash, soot, and other harmful pollutants, that can affect the quality of the air inside homes and commercial buildings. The fine particles in the smoke can penetrate indoor spaces through doors, windows, and even through HVAC systems.

Once inside, these particles can cause respiratory problems, irritation, allergies, and even long-term health issues like lung diseases. Additionally, wildfire smoke can cause unpleasant odors and discoloration, leading to property damage and economic losses. It is crucial to take proactive measures to reduce indoor air pollution by investing in high-quality indoor air filtration systems, ensuring proper sealing of windows and doors, and avoiding activities that generate smoke indoors. By taking adequate precautions, we can not only improve indoor air quality levels but protect our health against the harmful effects of wildfire smoke.

Change Your HVAC Air Filters

One of the most critical steps you can take to keep your indoor air clean is to change your HVAC air filters regularly. Dirty filters can lead to poor air quality, and they can also restrict airflow, reducing your central air conditioning system’s efficiency and potentially causing system damage.

During wildfire season, it’s especially crucial to keep your filters clean and replace them more frequently. Smoke and dust particles can clog your filters, causing them to work harder and leading to decreased indoor air quality. We recommend checking your filters once a month and replacing them every 4-6 weeks, depending on your usage and the level of wildfire activity in your area.

Use a High Efficiency Furnace Filter

In addition to changing your HVAC filters regularly, you can also use a high efficiency filter to further purify your indoor air. As the frequency and intensity of wildfires continue to grow, the need for better indoor air filtration systems becomes increasingly necessary. Wildfire smoke not only contains tiny particles that can irritate the eyes and nose but also dangerous gasses like carbon monoxide that can trigger respiratory problems.

Investing in an air filter with a high MERV rating can help you combat the negative effects of indoor air pollution from wildfire smoke. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. A filter with a high MERV rating captures smaller airborne particles effectively, such as the ones that gnaw on indoor air quality during a wildfire. Look for filters rated MERV 8 to MERV 12 for use with your air conditioner.

Seal Air Leaks

It should go without saying, but keep doors and windows closed as much as possible if wildfire smoke is in the air. But besides keeping those closed, wildfire particles can still enter your home.

Air leaks in your home's HVAC systems can allow smoke and other pollutants to enter your living space, compromising your indoor air quality. Look for gaps around doors, windows, and vents and seal them with caulk or weather stripping.

You can also consider investing in an energy audit to identify any air leaks or other inefficiencies in your home’s HVAC system, such as in the ductwork, outdoor intake damper and fresh air intake system. A professional energy auditor can recommend additional steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality and reduce your energy usage.

Install an Air Purifier

Even if you keep your windows and doors closed, tiny, harmful particles within the outdoor air can still enter your home, posing a serious health risk to you and your loved ones. The good news is that installing an air purifier can help you combat indoor air pollution from wildfire smoke.

Air purifiers can be installed within your HVAC system’s ductwork and work by filtering out harmful particles from the air, including smoke from fire season and smoking cigarettes indoors, dust, volatile organic compounds, and allergens.

By continually circulating and purifying the air in your home, air purifiers can help reduce the amount of harmful smoke particles that you and your family breathe in. Additionally, studies have shown that using air purifiers can also improve indoor air quality and reduce the negative health effects of this outside air pollution.

Check Your HVAC System Settings

Running your air conditioner continuously during wildfire season can help remove smoke and dust particles from your indoor air, as long as the proper HVAC settings are in use. The majority of HVAC systems recirculate air already indoors and cool it. But some systems have a fresh outdoor air intake which should be shut off during poor air quality days, especially due to wildfires.

You can also use your HVAC system’s fan to help circulate the air in your home. Set your fan to run continuously, or use a timer to run it for a set amount of time each day. You can also use a box fan or ceiling fan to keep air moving in your rooms.

Maintain Your HVAC System Regularly

Wildfire smoke can be a serious threat to your indoor air quality, but by taking steps to protect your home, you can enjoy a comfortable and healthy living space. At Buckeye, we’re here to help you maintain a comfortable and safe home environment.

Regular maintenance is crucial to keep your air conditioner running smoothly and efficiently. During wildfire season, it’s even more important to keep up with your system’s maintenance to ensure it’s working at its best in spite of high levels of outdoor air pollution.

Schedule a professional HVAC inspection and service before wildfire season to make sure your system is in top shape. Your technician can also recommend additional steps you can take to protect your indoor air from smoke and other pollutants.

By changing your filters regularly, using a high efficiency HVAC filter, sealing air leaks, running your HVAC system continuously, using air purifiers, and maintaining your HVAC system, you can protect your home and family from wildfire smoke.

Contact us to schedule Columbus HVAC service today or for more information on how to keep your indoor air clean and healthy.


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