Your HVAC System and Wildfire Smoke: 3 Things to Know
Call on HVAC professionals to check out your air conditioning and heating systems after your home has been exposed to smoke from wildfires. There are three reasons why your system needs an inspection. Here’s what you should know:
- Smoke Carries a Lot of Particulate Matter
Smoke is composed of liquids, gases, gas mixtures, and particles. The types of gases and particulates in any given smoke plume depend on what is being burnt and creating the smoke.
When homes and other structures burn nearby, the smoke contains all of the materials and compounds that made up the building’s carpet, insulation, appliances, and furnishings. Plastic, metal, polymers, gases, and glass mix together as they burn and the mixtures often create more toxic fumes.
In wildfires, the source of fuel for the flames is mostly plant matter. However, the smoke from wildfires also carries harmful particulates. These include poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons that are known to be carcinogenic such as:
Organic acids are present in wildfire smoke and some of these are carcinogenic. Organic acids can also be corrosive to surfaces in your home including metal components of your HVAC system.
Even if you close all windows and run your air conditioning system in smoky conditions, the particulate matter will enter your home. You may not even recognize the fine particulate matter. You may believe since you don’t see any soot that there is no smoke damage. However, filters and a closed window will only keep out so much ultra-fine particulate matter.
- Duct Cleaning Refreshes Smoke-Affected HVAC Systems
If you ran your heating or air conditioning systems, or you ran the fans in the system without heating or cooling, during a wildfire, the finest particles from the smoke are now resting in your duct-work. Even heavier particulates, including ash and dark soot, may accumulate in HVAC duct-work, on top of furnaces, inside compressors, and around coils.
Schedule a thorough cleaning of your furnace, AC unit, and duct-work after your home is exposed to heavy smoke. Without a good duct cleaning, your HVAC system will kick up the harmful particulates in the duct-work every time the fan runs.
While the HVAC techs are at your home, they can inspect your entire HVAC system for dust and debris from smoke exposure. They supply you with filters that remove as many particulates as possible in your type of system.
If you’re having issues with a smoky smell when you run your cooling or heating units, ask your HVAC professional about secondary charcoal filters. Add-on air-filtration systems may also be a solution to keep your HVAC unit fresh.
- Maintain Your AC Unit During Fire Season
It’s important to heed all evacuation recommendations for your area during fire season. You may be asked to evacuate your home to protect you from the nearby smoke more than from the flames. Have a plan to quickly and safely exit your house with all household members, pets, important documents, and necessary medications.
If you must stay in a wildfire area, the smoky air can become extremely distressing for people with asthma, allergies, and chronic lung problems. Even healthy people can feel short of breath and nauseated by heavy smoke.
A clean, efficient air conditioning system helps when you can’t leave the area. It will help filter the smoky air and provide clean, cool air for breathing.
Keep your AC unit running at top efficiency during fire season. Schedule a visit to have routine maintenance performed on your unit before the smoky season arrives. Your HVAC tech will inspect and fix any problems with:
- Thermostat settings
- Blower adjustments
- Electrical and gas connections
- Component lubrication
- Condensate drains
- Evaporator and condenser coils
- AC refrigerant levels
Mauzy can check the AC components listed above after heavy smoke exposure if needed as well as provide you a referral to a duct-cleaning service.
Contact Mauzy Heating, Air & Solar today and schedule service on your air conditioning system before spring is in full swing. We provide HVAC maintenance, repair, and replacement.