Homeowner

How to keep your home wildfire smoke free

Make sure your home is a safe HAVENthis wildfire season

Wildfire occurrences are expected to increase 25% by 2030

As much of North America faces its worst droughts in recent history and memories of 2020 wildfires still rage in the minds of those affected, people are increasingly considering the risks of wildfire smoke on their health and their homes. But what steps can be taken? How can you make sure your family isn't breathing smoky, polluted air inside the home? Can you remove wildfire smoke from home? Or better yet - stop it getting in in the first place? Let's dive in...

What are the health risks of wildfire smoke?

Studies have shown that wood smoke can remain active in the body for 40 times longer than tobacco smoke, increasing the chances of developing cancer or a respiratory condition¹. As wildfires and forest fires continue to get worse year on year, the long-term health effects will escalate over time: creating a double-whammy of prolonged exposure over each individual event, and repeated exposure over each year.

Those with asthma are particularly susceptible to the health risks of inhaling Particulate Matter (PM) from sources such as fire smoke - and an estimated 13% of Americans suffer from asthma². Research suggests that long-term exposure to indoor air pollution can even cause asthma (more on that here). It's clearer than ever that we need to take Indoor Air Quality seriously for the health of ourselves and our loved ones - whether or not there is an existing health concern at play.

Can wildfire smoke affect me at home?

Though the air in your home may not become visibly smoky, if the levels outside are concentrated and air quality warnings are in place, the chances are that wildfire smoke particles have made it inside. There are many factors which affect this - from the obvious, such as doors and windows being left open or damaged sealant allowing for infiltration, to the obscure (such as the tightness of your home's construction or negative air pressure inside causing polluted air to be drawn in).

Setting your HVAC system to 'recirculate' and turning off outdoor-venting fans is a good start - but for more thorough tips, check out our infiltration checklist. Once smoke particles have made it into the home, they can remain over time in soft furnishings and carpeting, causing further risk to your family's health each time these surfaces are disturbed and the particles become airborne once more. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and mopping can help to reduce the risk - but ideally, we don't want these unwanted guests in your home in the first place. So what else can be done?

When outdoor pollutant levels are high, ventilating the indoors with outdoor air can make your pollution worse.

How can I avoid wildfire smoke getting into my home?

In addition to staying informed with the Air Quality Index and following official guidance during fire smoke events, we recommend taking steps to monitor the levels of indoor air pollution so that you and your family aren't blindsided by invisible smoke particles in your home. Counter-top monitors have their place - but if the source of infiltration is from a particular room where a monitor isn't present, the chances are this will go undetected. Many go in search of the best home air purifier for wildfire smoke, but the effectiveness of certain models under real-world conditions and health concerns relating to side effects³ are added worries that no-one needs during wildfire season. For a cost-effective short-term solution, try our DIY tutorial to create a box-fan air purifier.

A professionally installed monitor mounted in the return duct of your home's HVAC system has the ability to assess airborne pollutants across the whole home - giving you peace of mind that they're not slipping under the radar, and giving your HVAC professional the insights they need to assess whether further filtration or ventilation is needed to keep you and your loved ones safe. An effective furnace filter for wildfire smoke is also a must, and keep in mind that your filter’s lifespan will be much shorter during smoky season.

Find out more about making your home a safe HAVEN, and filter replacement alerts:

HAVEN™ is your professionally managed air quality solution, helping you and your family

Breathe Better

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Can indoor air pollution cause asthma?

Since May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at the links between air pollution and asthma - the causes, culprits, and changes you can make within your home to reduce the chances of an asthma attack.

Allergic asthma can be triggered by common factors within the home such as dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander. These airborne particles are known as Particulate Matter (PM). Without proper air filtration and ventilation within a home, they can remain floating in the air over extended periods of time. When inhaled, PM causes irritation and inflammation to the airways, triggering asthma symptoms.

Though the science is still evolving, it's believed that continued exposure to poor indoor air quality can be a cause of asthma in itself due to the long-term irritation of airways. This is of particular concern regarding children, whose lungs are still developing and whose lung function can be compromised by such conditions.

Indoor air pollution increases the risk of childhood acute respiratory infections by 78%

Can keeping your home clean reduce asthma triggers?

If dust and pet dander can cause asthma symptoms, then cleaning and vacuuming should help… right? Unfortunately the answer isn’t quite that simple. While a thorough cleaning routine is advisable, there are other factors at play here: unless your vacuum has an in-built HEPA filter, the process of vacuuming can disperse these pesky particles back into the air — right back into the danger zone, where they’re more likely to be inhaled by you or your loved ones. Similarly, cleaning sprays and aerosol products introduce irritants known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the home — which are sources of air pollution and often asthma triggers in themselves.

“It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home, even if symptoms are not noticeable”

Can air quality testing help?

Air quality isn’t static: an assessment of your home’s air on a weekday while your family are at work or school will give a very different picture to, say, testing on a busy Saturday morning with a full house and breakfast cooking away on the stovetop, or after a spring cleaning blitz.

Actions such as using your kitchen range hood and opening windows can help to reduce concentration levels of air pollutants under the right conditions — but outdoor factors such as pollen, traffic pollution or wildfire smoke can introduce further harmful substances into your home’s air and risk an asthma attack.

Continuous monitoring of your home’s air gives you the full picture of pollution levels, with the data to spot trends so you can problem solve your air quality issues and pin-point events that may have sparked an asthma attack, or recognize those long-term poor air quality indicators and address them before noticeable health effects set in. With an estimated 1.6M deaths per year linked to indoor air pollution² and no medical cure for asthma, it’s clear that awareness needs to be raised on the issue and the impact of the invisible on human health.

Ready to learn more about indoor air quality monitoring?

HAVEN™ is your professionally managed air quality solution, helping you and your family

Breathe Better

HVAC Pro

I’m an HVAC Pro

I'd like to provide HAVEN as a part of my services

Homeowner-button

I’m a homeowner

Interested in finding the best indoor air quality monitor & solutions

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