This website is currently undergoing routine maintenance, and some pages might be unavailable. Thank you for your patience.

Amid Wildfires, HVAC Systems Can Help Improve Indoor Air Quality and Save Lives

Recent wildfires have caused smoke and air quality issues in Canada and several areas of the United States. Canada’s fire season is just the beginning. Similar conditions are anticipated in several areas of the United States, according to CNN meteorologists.

  Tony Kocurek

Recent wildfires have caused smoke and air quality issues in Canada and several areas of the United States. Canada’s fire season is just the beginning. Similar conditions are anticipated in several areas of the United States, according to CNN meteorologists.

As the fire season intensifies, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of maintaining and servicing your customers’ home and business air conditioning systems to safeguard them from the effects of smoke. 

One critical step is to ensure the installation of proper filters and verify the correct operation of economizer controls. These measures help guarantee the highest possible air quality in homes or businesses when smoke from wildfires spread.

When addressing inquiries about what to do with HVAC systems during an extreme air quality alert, it is vital to understand the specific HVAC systems in use, as different systems necessitate distinct actions to maintain a clean indoor air environment. For example, evaporative cooling systems utilize 100 percent outside air, while heat pumps utilize minimal outside air, if any. Consequently, each system requires different approaches to maintain a clean indoor air environment.

If your customer has an HVAC system with a fresh air intake, it is advisable to set the system to recirculate mode or set the outside air damper to its minimum position. A reliable HVAC air filter will effectively capture smoke particles within homes or businesses. However, customers with evaporative coolers should refrain from using them unless they are in a heat emergency, as these systems can introduce more smoke indoors.
It is also important to educate customers about the significance of air duct cleaning. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends cleaning air ducts as necessary, particularly when excessive dust, debris or particles are clogging the ducts or being released inside homes and businesses through the registers.

Additionally, customers should schedule annual comprehensive maintenance checks and necessary repairs for their HVAC systems to ensure adequate airflow. A well-functioning cooling system plays a crucial role in regulating relative humidity inside homes and businesses, thereby enhancing the air quality for everyone inside. 

Tony Kocurek, SMACNA President