Wildfire Smoke Home Air Purification in Tahoe
Affected by the recent spreading wildfire smoke? As we know in Tahoe, wildfires not only destroy nature and homes, they leave an odor that lingers long after the fires have been extinguished. Odors can be persistent and are not always easy to tackle. The best initial step is to clean everything, removing the film of soot that will be found on all surfaces, horizontal as well as vertical. Here are some tips on services we do not offer:
- If it can be washed safely in a clothes washer or dishwasher, take advantage of appliances that can do some of the work. Read washing instructions and comply with the manufacturer’s warnings or you may harm items.
- Vacuum everything. This should really be done with a true HEPA filtered vacuum, this is one that not only has a HEPA filter but is sealed in a manner that eliminates leakage around the filter. Clean the vacuum tip from time to time so you are not spreading soot. Shop vacuums, regardless of filter should not be used! Vacuum the following:
- Carpets and flooring
- Walls and drapes
- Table surfaces
- Cabinets and shelves
- Above door and window trim and floor baseboard trim
- Mattresses and furniture
- All personal property, books, stuffed animals, pillows
- Hard surfaces can be cleaned with a mild detergent and t-shirt rags after the soot has been removed through vacuuming. Swiffer-type devices can be used for large wall and floor surfaces. It is best to use a number of rags that should be thoroughly washed before reuse or thrown away. Don’t smudge the stuff over everything with a dirty rag! Wetting soot-covered items can permanently damage their finish!
- Change filters on heating, AC, and kitchen hoods.
- Have heating, ventilation, and dryer discharge ducting cleaned by a technician with a HEPA filtered duct cleaning system.
- Steam clean fabric furniture, carpet, tile, and some wood or vinyl (consult your steam cleaning specialist)
- Wash dishes and inside cabinets.
- Launder clothes.
Odor Removal Techniques- Services We Do Offer
Fogging– This is when a solution is aerosolized, either using a thermal or cold fogger to create a “fog” that will cover the surfaces of the home. These typically rely on smell masking chemicals that can be a nuisance for many, and often just add to the pungency of a home.
Hydroxyl Generators- These generate hydroxyls using UV light that reacts with many odor molecules to break them down. They are safe to use in occupied spaces though take a long time to work, often weeks to get adequate results.
Ozone Generator- These devices produce ozone, a molecule consisting of three paired oxygen atoms. It is an oxidizer, and very reactive, bonding with odor molecules to break them down. It should never be used in occupied spaces, as it is bad for us to breathe. They also pose a mild risk with rubbers and plastics, though this is often at extremely high levels. It is very effective, with results in hours.
Air Scrubbing with Carbon Filter- Air filtering with HEPA filtrated scrubbers can remove particulate from the air, including smoke particulate. This filtration is not very effective with removing odors, but with the addition of a carbon filter, Volatile Organic Compounds and Odors caused by wildfire smoke can be removed.
- Deodorizing services are usually estimated off on the volume of the structure being deodorized. A 1,600 square foot house will cost roughly $1,200-$1,800.
- It is advisable to clean first as results are not guaranteed.
- You would need to vacate your home for a period of at least 24 hours during and briefly after the treatment, to allow the home to air out.
- Treatment should not be done during periods of outdoor smoke as we will need to flush the home with outside air.
- Ozone does have an odor. It will dissipate shortly after the treatment, though you may notice it initially.