Can Smoke Travel Through My Home’s Air Vents?

Young technician repairing air conditioner

From wildfires to cigarettes, breathing in smoke is harmful for the health of your lungs, and finding a safe space to stay away from smoke is important. Most people find refuge in their home, but did you know that your home may not be as safe as you think? Smoke can sneak into your home through air vents and other entry ways and can damage your health where you least expect it. It is important to maintain healthy levels of indoor air quality, but how is that done?

How Does Cigarette Smoke Travel Through Your Home?

Both smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and that people exhale combine to create what is known as “secondhand smoke.” This combination will eventually travel through your air vents, especially if you live in an apartment that shares ductwork or if you share a living space with a person who smokes. Your HVAC systems takes this secondhand mixture and pushes it out to all the rooms in your home. As your system continues to recirculate the air, the mixture of smoke leaves behind a sticky substance in your air ducts. The presence of this substance means that you may be breathing in secondhand smoke throughout the day, even beyond when the person originally smoked.

Do you think your home might be affected by smoke traveling through your air vents? There are a few key signs that can let you know. If there are yellow and brown stains on your walls and curtains, this could be a warning that it is time to get a duct cleaning. Luckily, Certified Heating & Air Conditioning offers Certified Air Scrubbers to improve your indoor air quality.

How Do Wildfires Affect Your Indoor Air Quality?

According to research gathered in an article by NPR, wildfire smoke can easily enter your home, creating cardiac and respiratory problems, and making indoor air quality hazardous. Wildfire particles can make their way into your home through different outlet such as cracks in windows or HVAC systems with a fresh air intake. The system then takes these particles and disperses them throughout the home. It is important to create a clean room to protect yourself from wildfire smoke. A clean room can be set up by following the steps from the EPA below:

  1. Choose a room in your home that is big enough to fit your entire family. For example, a bedroom with an attached bathroom works well, because you can keep the room sealed off for long periods of time.
  2. Do all you can to prevent smoke from entering the room.
  3. Run fans or air conditioners with filters to keep cool. 
  4. Bring a portable air cleaner into the room with you.
  5. Spend as much time as possible inside the clean room.

How To Prevent Smoke From Traveling Through Your Air Vents

In order to stop smoke from reaching your vents, you are going to want to seal all openings in your house such as windows, doors, and more. You will also want to seal your vents themselves and make sure that you have a properly installed filter with your system. For all of your HVAC and needs, Certified Heating & Air Conditioning is here for you.

Works Cited:

The Correlation Between Cigarette Smoke and Air Duct Cleaning

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/create-clean-room-protect-indoor-air-quality-during-wildfire
https://www.npr.org/2021/09/07/1034895514/sheltering-inside-may-not-protect-you-from-the-dangers-of-wildfire-smoke

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