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Wildfire Season Tips: Keeping Smoke Out of Houses

wildfire smoke

Summer will be here in just a few short weeks. Millions of Americans look forward to this short season that gives them more time outdoors to pursue the activities they love. Summer is also a time for extra caution in some parts of the country due to the increased wildfire risk.

This is especially true of California and other states on the West Coast. Northern California has been particularly hard hit over the past several years with four of the five largest wildfires in state history taking place there since 2017.

Homeowners have their work cut out for them avoiding the many effects of wildfires, including wildfire smoke getting into their homes. This blog explores steps they can take to prevent that.

How Wildfire Smoke Enters Homes

Fine particles present in wildfire smoke can enter a home through doors and windows, known as natural ventilation. Smoke and particles can also get in through mechanical ventilation. Examples of mechanical ventilation include kitchen or bathroom fans that vent to the outdoors or a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system that comes with a fresh air intake. Small particles can also infiltrate cracks, joints, and openings around windows and doors.

The tiny particles in wildfire smoke are only 10 microns and are dangerous to human health. For comparison purposes, a human hair is up to 50 microns in size. Breathing fine particles into the lungs can cause widespread inflammation or respiratory tract infections. Children, pregnant women, adults over age 65, and people with heart or lung conditions are at greatest risk of becoming ill from wildfire smoke.

Secure the Seals on Door and Windows

As soon as homeowners notice thick smoke outside, it is time to close all doors and windows and check to make sure each one has a tight seal around it. Even if they do not physically see or feel gaps that would let in smoke, they could still be there.

The only way to know for sure if gaps are present is to turn out the lights and hold a lighter near each door and window. Smoke blowing away from the window or a flickering flame both indicate a gap. Homeowners should keep caulking material on hand to allow them to do a quick fix.

Buy a HEPA Filter

Having a HEPA filter in the home can reduce the concentration of wildfire smoke particles by as much as 85 percent. The best HEPA air filters can reduce the presence of particles measuring between 2.5 and 10 microns.

Run the Air Conditioner to Filter Wildfire Smoke

Turning on the air conditioner and closing all the windows helps to keep indoor air fresh. Homeowners just need to make sure that the HVAC filter is clean and set the system to recycle indoor air. Households without air conditioning should closely monitor the Air Quality Index (AQI) in their area and only open windows for fresh air when the rating is favorable. Typically, the best time to open windows is as early in the morning or late at night as possible to freshen the stale air.

When smoke does get into the home, investing in a quality air purifier can help to eliminate it.

If you do find yourself in any kind of real estate issues, whether its fire damage, water damage, financial problems, etc. Find yourself a reputable Real Estate Lawyer to help you through the nuances of straightening out whatever problems come your way.