Wildfire season is nothing new to the state of California. Seemingly every year now, fires rage through our state, ravaging hillsides and consuming acre after acre of dead brushland. The devastation is widespread—even for those who aren’t directly in the path of a particular blaze, everyone around for miles will have to deal with dangerously unhealthy air quality that could cause all sorts of health problems. Smoke, ash, and soot particles floating through the air outside will also greatly reduce air quality indoors, meaning even staying inside isn’t necessarily safe.

However, you don’t have to resign yourself to living with poor quality air during wildfire season. In fact, you can actually improve your indoor air quality by simply knowing how to properly utilize your HVAC system. Here are a few helpful tips that can help you breathe easier and stay healthier even when the air outside reaches truly dreadful levels of quality during wildfire season.

Seal Off Air Leaks

While you can’t do a whole lot to control air passing in and out of your home while doors and windows are open, you can do your part to keep them closed as much as possible. Unless you’re planning on staying holed up at home for the duration of the poor air quality, you’re probably going to have to leave your house at some point. But opening doors and windows aren’t the only time air can leak into your home—it can also leak in through gaps and cracks around doors, windows, and other openings.

These air leaks are the source of a ton of energy loss for your heating and cooling system, and they’re also a source of poor-quality air and airborne particles sneaking into your home during fire season. This is why it can so often smell smoky in your house, even though you’re keeping everything as shut tight as possible while fires are burning and the air is filled with soot. We recommend inspecting and replacing any worn-out weather stripping around doors and windows each year in order to keep your seals complete and tight. Doing so will not only help you breathe easier, but keep your heating and cooling bills down too.

Run Your HVAC Fan

Running your HVAC fan doesn’t necessarily heat or cool your home, but it does keep air cycling through your air filter. Your air filter is designed to remove particulate matter, particularly large particles like smoke, ash, and soot. By running your fan even when your air conditioner isn’t on, you’ll constantly be straining these particles out of the air as the air is forced through your system. This continually cleans the air, keeping your indoor air quality higher and you breathing easier.

However, be aware that doing so does come at a cost. For one, running your HVAC fan does use energy. While it’s not quite as much as running your entire air conditioner, this fan is extremely powerful, and does pull a good amount of power in order to operate. You may want to only do this intermittently, such as when you notice that your indoor air is getting particularly bad. Second, this does add extra wear and tear to your fan itself, and that may shorten its lifespan. While a few hours here or there aren’t a big deal, people with older HVAC systems may want to think twice about running their fan for hours on end—it could cause the fan to give out completely.

Change Your Air Filter Frequently

Finally, your HVAC system is going to be filtering a lot of air during wildfire season, and that means your air filter is going to be capturing a lot of dust and particles that are floating around in your indoor air. That means you’ll need to change out your air filter far more quickly than you would at any other time. A dirty air filter restricts airflow, wastes energy, and even contributes to declining indoor air quality, which is why they need to be changed as soon as possible.

We strongly advise keeping a few spare air filters stored somewhere in your home. During wildfire seasons, it’s not at all unusual for the most common sizes to quickly sell out at home improvement stores everywhere because so many people are looking to keep their homes protected. By having a few stored filters, you can quickly and easily change out your filter if you notice that your air conditioner is struggling or that your indoor air quality has slowly started to fall apart. Be sure to check your filter frequently so you’re always changing it when it needs it.

Tired of poor indoor air quality? Get help with a new indoor air quality improvement system from the experts at All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical! Dial (909) 500-8193 today.