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Serving the South Puget Sound and Western Washington Areas Since 1976

Serving the South Puget Sound and Southwest Washington Areas Since 1976

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Should I Have My Ducts Cleaned Due To Wildfire Smoke?


Washington State gets its nickname “The Evergreen State” for its abundant, evergreen forests. Unfortunately, more and more of our forests are prone to wildfires. We’ve also experienced the ill effects of wildfires from our Canadian neighbors to the north and from Oregon to the south as smoke and ash continue to infiltrate our area, field by strong winds.

As we continue to experience extended periods of poor air quality due to wildfire smoke, you may be wondering how this affects your home. The effects of wildfire smoke can remain in your home long after the wildfires are gone. Let’s go over whether your home would benefit from duct cleaning due to residual wildfire ash and smoke. 

Wildfires and the Air Quality Index (AQI)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the Air Quality Index (AQI) to relay information about the health effects of common air pollutants including wildfire smoke. The Pacific Northwest has experienced an increasing number of days where the AQI has reached unhealthy, hazardous levels. And unfortunately, this isn’t an issue that’s going to get better.

When the AQI reaches “unhealthy” or “hazardous” levels, people are advised to stay inside and to refrain from any outdoor activity if they can avoid it. However, smoke and particulate matter can still penetrate your home even when all the doors and windows of your home are closed. Depending on where you live, you’ve possibly had a light layer of ash accumulate in your home or have had to wear a mask inside when your home’s air is affected. 

What’s in Wildfire Smoke?

Wildfire smoke is particularly hazardous because of what it’s made up of and the fact that the particles are so small. Wildfire smoke contains a mixture of particulates, carcinogens, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and volatile chemicals. Its specific makeup will change from fire to fire, depending on what materials are feeding the flames. 

The microscopic particles from wildfire smoke and ash are smaller than 2.5 micrometers which are small enough to penetrate the bloodstream and deep into the lungs. Wildfire smoke can cause health issues that range from something as mild as burning, irritated eyes and sinuses, to conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Fine particles are particularly harmful to people who suffer from chronic heart and lung diseases.

Should I Have My Ducts Cleaned After a Wildfire?

According to the EPA, ductwork should be cleaned as needed. For example, you should consider having the ducts cleaned if your ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and if particles are actually released into your home from the supply registers. In other words, if your ductwork is already problematic and then is affected by soot and smoke from a wildfire, duct cleaning is recommended. 

So how do you know your air ducts are clean and in good condition? Well, if you’ve never had your ductwork cleaned before, you’re already overdue for this service already. Air ducts should be cleaned every 3-4 years under normal conditions. This timeframe needs to be shortened if you’ve had smoke infiltration. 

Count on the team with the most experience. Contact the team at Sunset Air today for duct services in Olympia, WA.

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