Protect Your Commercial HVAC System from Wildfire Smoke

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Keeping your building safe from wildfire smoke


Although we have a reprieve from the smoke in Western New York, it is sure to comeback at some point this summer.  Below are some tips to help you keep your system running and more importantly keep the people in your building safe.   

Wildfire smoke is a serious threat to the health and safety of people and buildings. It contains harmful particles and gases that can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, and cause respiratory problems, asthma attacks, and even heart attacks. Wildfire smoke can also damage your commercial HVAC system, reducing its efficiency and lifespan, and increasing your energy costs and maintenance needs.

To protect your commercial HVAC system from wildfire, smoke and other pollutants, you should take some preventive and reactive measures. Here are some tips to help you:

– Check the air quality index (AQI) regularly and follow the recommendations for outdoor activities and ventilation. If the AQI is above 150, you should limit outdoor air intake and recirculate indoor air as much as possible.

– Replace your air filters more frequently during wildfire season. Air filters are designed to trap dust, pollen, and other contaminants, but they can get clogged quickly by wildfire smoke. Clogged filters can reduce airflow, increase pressure, and cause overheating and malfunctioning of your HVAC system. You should check your air filters at least once a month and replace them when they are dirty or damaged.

– Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or activated carbon filters if possible. These filters can capture smaller particles and gases that regular filters cannot. HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger, while activated carbon filters can adsorb volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odors from wildfire smoke. However, these filters may require special installation and maintenance, so consult with a professional HVAC contractor before using them.

– Clean your ducts and coils regularly. Ducts and coils are also prone to accumulating dust, debris, and smoke particles, which can affect the performance and quality of your HVAC system. Dirty ducts and coils can reduce airflow, increase energy consumption, and create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. You should have your ducts and coils inspected and cleaned by a licensed HVAC technician at least once a year, or more often if you notice signs of contamination or damage.

– Install an air purifier or an air scrubber in your building. An air purifier or an air scrubber is a device that can remove pollutants from the indoor air using various methods, such as filtration, ionization, or oxidation. An air purifier or an air scrubber can supplement your HVAC system by providing additional protection against wildfire smoke and improving the indoor air quality. However, you should choose an air purifier or an air scrubber that is suitable for your building size, type, and occupancy, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and operation.

This may seem like a daunting task, but MP&SM is here to help.   Monroe Piping & Sheet Metal offers a preventive maintenance program that can automate these tasks.   Monroe Piping & Sheet Metal will work with you to plan a maintenance schedule that works for you, your building, and your equipment.   

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