If one thing has been on the minds of Kelowna homeowners lately, it is the wildfires burning all over the Pacific Northwest, especially in British Columbia.
The Kelowna smoke index has indicated dangerously high levels of pollutants in the air because of this natural disaster.
The combination of lingering smoke and hot temperatures this summer has made breathing difficult for nearly everyone.
You may not realize that the poor Okanagan air quality outside can also impact your indoor air quality (IAQ).
When a BC wildfire rages nearby, volatile organic compounds, soot and ash particles work their way through the air and into your home.
Those microscopic particles blend with other household pollutants, creating a perfect storm for people with respiratory issues and allergies.
Before you pack up and move to avoid the abysmal Kelowna and Okanagan air quality, try some of these simple suggestions to improve the air quality in your home.
Testing Indoor Air Pollution
The Kelowna air quality health index can give you a rough idea of what the air is like outside, but it does not provide you with information about the air quality inside your home.
For that, you should test your indoor air to see what kinds of pollutants you have been breathing.
What should you look for? Here are the types of particles that can create a health risk due to poor air quality indoors:
Asbestos and lead (in older homes)
Dust and dirt
Mould and mildew
Pet dander and hair
Other household chemical fumes or agents
It is not a pleasant-sounding list, is it? When you consider what makes up the air you breathe indoors, you can see why improving the air quality is so important.
Some Kelowna homeowners invest in an air monitoring system to track local air quality. Others rely on carbon monoxide and radon gas monitors to warn them of dangerous levels.
You can even get smartphone apps that monitor air quality! Pick a system and use it regularly, not just when the smoke in Kelowna today seems out of control.
Change Your Air Filters
Once you know what you are dealing with in your home, you can remove those air pollutants.
An easy place to start is with top-quality air filters. These filters work hard every day to remove microscopic particles from the indoor air. Look for HEPA filters that can also trap viruses and germs.
Air filters give their all, but don’t expect them to last forever. Some filters need changing every month, while others may work for up to six months.
However, when the Central Okanagan air quality levels are terrible, you may want to look at your filters to see how dirty they are.
PRO TIP! Mark your calendar to remember to change your air filters regularly.
Check Your Air Ducts
Your air filters are not the only part of your ventilation system that traps pollutants.
Over time, your air ducts can also accumulate dirt, mould, dust, and pet dander.
Even with clean filters, particles can move about your home through the ductwork.
This can be worse if your ductwork develops a leak.
If you have anyone in your home who has a respiratory issue, you should consider cleaning your air ducts every few years.
Air duct cleaning may not make the best DIY project since it can require techniques and equipment that you do not have.
Ask your contractor or get references from family and friends for a professional cleaning service that handles air ducts and vents.
Once you have companies in mind, ask them about their process, their use of chemical cleaning agents, and their price as you determine the right one for your home.
Keep Your House Clean
What happens to all those microscopic particles floating through the air?
Eventually, they settle on your furniture, drapery, bedding, rugs, and other floor coverings.
Frequent housecleaning can keep dust and dirt under control.
It doesn’t hurt to remove clutter as well; the more stuff you have in your home, the more surfaces exist where dust can accumulate.
When the air quality health index makes the usual outdoor activities unsafe, enlist your family for a thorough housecleaning session.
People with breathing problems may want to wear a mask while cleaning to prevent inhalation of those particles that you stir up while cleaning.
To make your housecleaning more efficient, upgrade your supplies.
For example, microfiber cloths can grab and hold onto dust, while sealed vacuums with HEPA filters may do a more thorough job with flooring and upholstery where dust tends to settle.
Aim for deep-cleaning your home once or twice a year, unless someone in your family has allergies, asthma, or another respiratory condition. In that case, you may want to clean more often.
Buy an Air Purifier
Some homeowners find that an air purifier or air filtration unit works well to reduce dust, dirt, and odours, even those from wildfires.
An air cleaner is an often-overlooked appliance that can work wonders for small spaces, including kitchens and bedrooms, where air quality matters most.
Look for HEPA air filtration units with genuine HEPA filters, which are more efficient at capturing tiny particles in the air.
Also, consider the size of your space to determine what size air purifier works best for your needs.
Invest in a Whole-Home Air Purifier
A single air purifier may not be enough to improve the air pollution levels throughout your home. For that, you may want to invest in a whole-home air purifier.
This appliance may connect directly with your HVAC system, and you can program some like a thermostat so you can control when they operate.
Not only can a whole-home air purifier improve IAQ, but it can also prolong the life of your HVAC system. Your air conditioner does not have to work as hard to circulate clean air, so it may need less maintenance due to air pollution wear and tear.
Instead of worrying about Kelowna air quality during wildfire season, take positive steps to do something about your indoor air quality.
For more tips and tricks about your HVAC system or other home improvement needs, contact us at Phyxter Home Services at (778) 488-0690 or check out our Kelowna website for more information on HVAC services.
We pride ourselves on providing top-notch support to help you find a home contractor any time you need one in Kelowna.
Other Related Resources for Current Air Quality Data:
BC Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)
gov.bc.ca Air Quality Advisory