Wildfire season rolls in every summer in Portland. Rainy springtimes lead to plenty of new growth that dries out as high temperatures arrive. Larger and more destructive wildfires have started to impact large stretches of Portland, making indoor air quality a major issue for many locals.
With wildfire seasons becoming more intense in the past few years, it’s a good idea to combat the adverse effects of wildfire smoke on your indoor air quality. One way to do so is to use a whole-home air purifier to remove contaminants, like smoke, from your home’s air.
If you want to know what air purifier is best for wildfire smoke in Portland, take a look at this in-depth guide in which we’ll discuss the following questions:
- The differences between types of air purifiers.
- The most effective air purifier against wildfire smoke.
- The best ways to protect yourself against wildfire smoke.
Get Professional Advice on Which Air Purifier Is Best for Your Home
If you're considering installing an air purifier to fight the smoke damage from local wildfires, get in touch with the Four Seasons team today! Our indoor comfort experts have been installing the latest in air cleaning technology since 1979 and always offer fair and honest pricing. Call us at 503-538-1950 or click the button below!
The Differences Between Types of Air Purifiers
Whole home air purifiers come in several different types. Some types install in or near your HVAC unit to upgrade the level of filtration. Others add an entirely new system that sanitizes the air you breathe. Air purifier types vary the most based on what type of particulate matter or pollutant they can remove.
Let's look at the four types of whole-home air purifiers available for residential installation, how they work, and what they can remove from your indoor air.
HEPA Air Filters
HEPA filters, or high-efficiency particulate air filters, are the gold standard for removing ultrafine particles from the air. They can trap particles that are a minuscule 0.3 microns in size like:
- Mold spores
A micron is a millionth of a meter. For example, a grain of salt is 40-60 microns, and the naked eye typically can't see particles smaller than 40 microns.
Before installing this level of air filtration, it's important to get help from an HVAC professional. While these filters pull out virtually all particulate matter, they can also severely restrict airflow, making your AC unit work harder to provide acceptable cooling levels. Avoid overburdening your unit and reducing its lifespan with help from our knowledgeable, NATE-certified technicians.
Activated Carbon Filters
The EPA lists activated carbon as a safe way to filter air and water. Activated carbon filters use adsorption to pull chemicals and other vapors out of the air, causing particles and odor-causing agents to stick to the surface of the activated carbon filter.
They can remove particles between 0.5-50 microns (a millionth of a meter) in size and are ineffective at removing ultrafine particles. However, these filters excel at removing odors and gases. Each granule in the filter’s carbon bed is a point where something from the air can stick to the filter. Once all the granules are full, the filter stops working and needs replacement.
Wildfire smoke particles have water vapor and gases in them. So, an activated carbon filter could effectively combat most problems with wildfire smoke. Many people choose to use both carbon filters and HEPA filters because carbon filters can eliminate odors while the HEPA filter catches particulate matter.
UV Air Purifiers
UV air purifiers use specific light wavelengths to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. While these units are highly effective at sanitizing the air, they don't remove particulate matter, so they don't do much for wildfire smoke.
Many air purification systems combine UV and HEPA filtration to create a comprehensive cleaning system. The UV air purifiers can kill bacteria and organisms, while the HEPA filter removes the airborne particles from your home’s air.
UV/Catalyst Ionizing Hybrid
Catalytic ionizing air purifiers that also include UV are some of the most powerful air purifiers on the market with the broadest applications. These purifiers don't simply trap particulate matter like a HEPA filter; they destroy harmful VOCs and other particles as they pass through the system. They can also force smaller airborne particles to clump together, making it easier for your filters to catch the tinier particles.
At Four Seasons, we recommend the REME HALO Whole-Home In-Duct Air Purifier. It’s popular with homeowners for effectively removing particles too small for a HEPA filter.
Most Effective Air Purifiers Against Wildfire Smoke
For protection against wildfire smoke, the best option is to double up on activated carbon and HEPA filters to remove ultrafine particles and gases from the air.
According to AirNow.gov, wildfire smoke particles typically range from 0.4-0.7 microns. The densely packed fibers in HEPA air filters can trap airborne particles in that size range. But, they are ineffective at removing lingering gaseous odors from wildfires, so it's important also to use an activated carbon filter.
If you opt for a HEPA and activated carbon filter combination, be sure to replace the filters regularly. Manufacturers typically recommend replacing HEPA filters every six months and carbon filters every 3. However, you may need to be more proactive about swapping out clogged filters during wildfires.
Ways To Protect Yourself Against Wildfire Smoke
Install an Air Quality Monitoring System
With wildfire particulate matter, it's essential to regularly change your filter. HEPA filters usually last 6 months to a year; you’ll want to replace them more frequently during wildfire season.
It's easy to forget to swap out old filters, particularly with their usual long lifespan. Installing an air quality monitoring system lets you know when to replace your filters. These systems measure smoke levels and how effective your HEPA filter is against wildfire smoke.
Change Your Air Filters Often
Even if your air quality monitoring system isn't showing a problem, be sure to have filter replacements on hand. You'll want to go into wildfire season with a new filter and change your filters after any major smoke exposure.
Don’t Vacuum Unless With a HEPA Filter
Wildfire smoke particles can settle on your surfaces. Don’t accidentally re-circulate the particles throughout your home by vacuuming, which kicks those particles up into the air. Either mop or use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
Look Into Other Air Quality Services and Products
If you want to improve your indoor air quality, talk to our comfort experts at Four Seasons and schedule testing at your Portland home today! Contact us for 2-hour appointment windows and a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all the work we do to give you peace of mind.
Our indoor air quality experts know wildfire season's challenges to our community. We’ll be there the same day you call to help you decide on a solution that will help bring you peace of mind and fit your budget and needs. Install an air filtration system that prevents up to 96% of particulate matter from passing through the system.