September 20, 2022
Preparing for the eventuality of the annual wildfire season in California is a must, and for many of us, the threat to the exterior of our home takes up much of the to-do list. However, even if wildfires aren't directly in your area, the smoke from these wildfires can affect the health of you and your family members.
There are steps you can take to avoid poor indoor air quality (IAQ) and the ensuing respiratory issues that can arise in your home, with these ventilation tips from Hassler!
Wildfires: A Recipe for Sprawling Smoke
Think about the last time you were at a campfire, and the smoke started to follow you wherever you decided to sit down. Smoke is persistent, and the term "up in smoke" may have Californians believing that once the smoke is up in the atmosphere, it is no longer a problem.
Smoke from California wildfires can affect the air quality all the way across the country! Knowing this, it shouldn't come as a surprise that nearby smoke can enter your home and wreak some havoc.
The fine particles in smoke are contaminants that can irritate your ears, nose, throat, and lungs. These tiny particles can also exacerbate other pre-existing symptoms, like seasonal allergies, asthma, COPD, and more. And once smoke enters your home, it can be extremely hard to remove the harmful particles — here's why.
Smoke in a Poorly Ventilated Home
Even though your HVAC systems likely already have air filters that are supposed to help keep your air clean, it can't fully condition all of the air that enters your home. Gaps in your home's construction, open doors and windows, leaks in your ductwork, and even low insulation levels can contribute to contaminated air entering your home. And these contaminants are unlikely to leave your home unless they are actively ventilated back outside.
Think about some of the dust and pet dander in your home floating back up into the air when you open a blanket or run your vacuum. That air is then sucked into your heating and cooling system, where it spits out again into your breathing air. Without a controlled and maintained whole-home ventilation, filtration, or purification system, this cycle continues — meaning the same smoke particles could enter your lungs.
How To Properly Ventilate a Home
Take note of the word "control" in the previous paragraph — this is the first step in preparing your home for the smoke of wildfire season. When you can gain better control over how much smoke enters your home, you can also take control of removing the smoke that does end up entering your breathing air. Here at Hassler, we do this by air sealing, insulating, and ventilating.
Getting your home as airtight as possible is always step one. We do this by locating the total air leakage in your home with a blower door test, pinpointing those leaks with an infrared thermal imaging camera, and then sealing those leaks with an expanding spray foam material.
Insulating your home properly will stabilize the temperatures throughout your home, and make it much harder for outside air to force its way into your living space. Plus, it will make your home more comfortable throughout all seasons, reduce your energy bills, and increase the effectiveness of the aforementioned air sealing!
Now that the barrier between your indoor living space and the smokey outdoors has been fortified and made as airtight as possible, there needs to be a clear path for those harmful particles to go back outside, or a way to trap and remove them from the indoor air cycle. We can do this through:
- Whole-home ventilation systems, like heat recovery ventilators
- Air purification systems, like the Air Scrubber by AerusIQ
- Air filtration systems, like the IQ Air Whole House Air Purifier
Which one is right for your home? The only way to know for sure is to speak with the IAQ experts at Hassler, schedule an indoor air quality test, and talk about your goals for increasing the overall health of your home during fire season in California, 2022 and beyond!