Media reports over the past few years show terrifying images of what seems like unending wildfire devastation in California. Sometimes these fires occur naturally, and other times they’re unfortunate accidents, or worse, arson. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in 2020 alone, California had 9,639 incidents that attributed to more than 4 million acres burned, 31 fatalities, and 10,488 structures damaged or destroyed.
Wildfires, while more common in our Western states, can occur anywhere. And, depending on weather patterns, smoke from wildfires in the West can even make its way to the East coast. With millions of people living in areas known for frequent wildfires, smoke from wildfires in the United States is adversely affecting air quality and potentially putting more people at health risk from smoke exposure.
According to AirNow, a division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it’s important to limit your exposure to smoke; especially if you are at increased risk for particle-related health issues. The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine, microscopic particles that can penetrate deep into your lungs. They can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to more serious chronic heart and lung diseases and strokes. Scary stuff!
While not everyone has the same sensitivity to wildfire smoke, it’s a good idea to avoid breathing smoke if you can help it. And when smoke is heavier in close proximity to a wildfire, it’s bad for everyone.
A building doesn’t have to actually burn for its HVAC system to incur damage from a wildfire. Soot can infiltrate HVAC systems, even when they’re sealed tight, and can be especially dangerous since it may consist of chemicals, metals, acids, and other harmful materials suspended in the air. Once soot gets in your HVAC system, replacing filters isn’t enough to combat the effects on indoor air quality. Your best bet is to get your air ducts cleaned by a professional. And it’s super-important that you choose a qualified contractor to ensure the job is done right – one who is certified for the task.
NADCA makes it really simple for homeowners to find an air duct cleaning professional. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area. NADCA members have technicians on staff with advanced training and certification in HVAC system cleaning.