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Improving Indoor Air Quality: Why AC Maintenance Matters More During Wildfire Season

Year after year, the wildfire season in Canada gets longer and more destructive. It’s a trend that spells major trouble for indoor air quality across the country, while at the same time elevating the importance of proper air conditioning maintenance. 

The tiny particulate matter in wildfire smoke is responsible for a whole host of health concerns, from irritations like coughing and headaches to more severe symptoms like dizziness, chest pain, and heart palpitations. 

Running air conditioning on recirculating mode when the outside air quality is poor is one of the best lines of defence against these kinds of health issues, as the system can filter out the tiny particles that wildfire smoke contains, creating better indoor air quality (IAQ).  

However, the effectiveness of an AC system in improving IAQ is directly linked to the level of maintenance it receives. 

5 steps for preventive AC maintenance ahead of wildfire season

Proper HVAC maintenance should be a year-round activity. But ahead of wildfire season, there are some specific steps you can take to ensure your customer’s AC system in particular is ready. 

Wildfire season in Canada can range from May to September, depending on the region. That means maintenance checkups should ideally be scheduled in early spring. 

  1. Air filter inspection and replacement: Air filters should be replaced several times throughout the year but it’s especially important to check them before and during wildfire season. Using a HEPA filter can capture up to 99% of particulate matter in air polluted by wildfires.
  2. Unit cleaning: Evaporator and condenser coils can accumulate debris, dust, and ash during wildfire season, which can significantly hinder the system’s performance. Keeping these clean is crucial, and covering the unit when it’s not in use will help the unit stay cleaner for longer.
  3. Ductwork inspection: Take the time to thoroughly inspect the ductwork in the home for any leaks or damage. Leaks should be sealed and damage repaired to prevent any polluted air from entering the system and circulating within the home.
  4. System performance check: Monitoring the overall performance of the system is essential. This involves ensuring the system is cooling effectively, the airflow is strong, and there are no unusual noises, smells, or other signs of a potential issue.
  5. Ensure the recirculation setting is operational: For systems equipped with a recirculation capability, it’s important to check that it’s on and working correctly. This ensures the AC doesn’t draw in outdoor air that contains smoke particles.

Creating safer homes for wildfire season 

Proper AC maintenance ensures that these systems are ready to deliver better indoor air quality in the face of ever-worsening wildfire seasons. Every maintenance check, filter replacement, and system performance test an HVAC professional does means cleaner air and safer homes. 

In addition to keeping AC systems in tip-top shape, HVAC pros are also in the best position to educate their clients on other factors that can impact indoor air quality, such as the importance of keeping windows and doors closed, the need for follow-up maintenance check-ins during wildfire season, and the benefit of upgrading to newer AC systems that are more effective and more efficient. 

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