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Manhattan darkened by smoke from Canadian wildfires.

Canadian Wildfires Spark AHRI Air Quality Reminders

June 13, 2023
Close windows and doors, and run the AC fan constantly.

Air Filtration Tips for Current Air Quality Situation

Arlington, Va. – The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute today reiterated indoor air quality tips for homeowners given the current air quality issues in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states resulting from the Canadian wildfires.

Homeowners and small business owners with central air conditioning should keep windows and doors closed during this period of poor air quality, and resist the urge to open them for extended periods regardless of the outdoor temperature. If the outdoor temperature is insufficient to require the use of air conditioning, consumers are advised to set their thermostats such that the fan runs constantly, which will continuously filter the air. 

Furnace Fan Filters

The filters that clean the air in a home or small business are typically located near the main air handling unit in the basement or utility room, which is why they are often referred to as “furnace filters.” 

While these should always be changed on the schedule recommended by the filter manufacturer, this particular air quality situation
makes it imperative that these filters be immediately checked for wear and replaced, if necessary.
  • Such filters are widely available at major retailers and online – consumers will find the filter size and type printed clearly on the existing filter.
  • Care should be taken to switch off power to the unit prior to removing the filter for changing or inspection. 
  • Consumers must not remove the filter and take it with them to the store – they should instead take a photo of it or write down the relevant information and leave the filter in place until they are ready to replace it.
  • While it might be tempting to replace an existing filter with one of a much higher efficiency rating (known as MERV), the existing filter was chosen to complement a consumer’s HVAC system. Installing a filter with a significantly higher MERV rating can result in damage to the system because such filters require greater pressure to move air through the home or business.
  • When changing a filter, consumers should write either the date of installation or the date it should be changed, according to the schedule provided by the filter manufacturer. This eliminates the guesswork and helps keep the system running smoothly. 

Additional Filtration Technologies

While it is obviously too late to add additional filtration technologies to a home or business in time to make a difference for this air quality situation, consumers who might be interested in doing so should contact their contractor, who can inspect the home and recommend suitable options.

Establishing a Maintenance Agreement

By working with a contractor to establish a seasonal maintenance agreement, consumers can ensure that their system is running properly in each season, can catch small issues before they become bigger and more expensive, and can ensure that in the event of system failure, which typically happens in the temperature extremes, the consumer’s needs are addressed in a timely manner.

Insisting on Certified Technicians

Technicians certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE) have been trained and tested in specific disciplines to ensure quality installation and maintenance of equipment. 

Find contractors with NATE-certified technicians by ZIP Code at