Does Air Conditioning Help Filter Smoke?

Learn how window and portable ACs can help filter smoke from wildfires and cigarette smoke from your home or office.

Does Air Conditioning Help Filter Smoke?

According to experts, window air conditioners are more effective at purifying air from smoke than small-sized air conditioners with a single hose. Air conditioners use air filters to remove contaminants from the air circulating in the home. By operating the air conditioner, indoor air is circulated, heat is removed, and some particles are also filtered out of the air. To ensure that your air filtration works at peak efficiency, get the highest level of filters possible.

HEPA filters trap very small particles and should be changed frequently to keep them working at peak performance. Wildfire season can be devastating, leading to unhealthy air conditions across the country. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, you can prepare properly before the season starts by purchasing a high-quality portable air filter or air conditioning filter. Make sure the HVAC filter has a high Minimum Efficiency Report Value (MERV) rating, generally greater than ten.

The higher the number, the better the filter for removing contaminants. Filters also range in thickness from one to five inches and should be changed more often during wildfire season. Air conditioners cannot filter cigarette smoke and the smoke will affect the life of the air conditioner filter. It's an especially good choice for those who don't work constantly with their air conditioning systems or who don't have a built-in air conditioning system.

When wildfire smoke enters your home, you can do so by opening windows and doors, poor insulation, and even through air conditioning units that bring outside air into the indoor air space. An air conditioner unit can anecdotally clean the air in your home, but an air purifier is designed to provide you with clean, healthy air. Experts even claim that window air conditioners are much more effective at removing smoke from the air than small-sized portable air conditioners with a single hose. Recirculated air that is introduced into an indoor environment from the air conditioner presents a level of danger to the air in a home, as it can filter particles and other pollutants from wildfire smoke that can cause dangerous effects to human health.

With a window air conditioner in place, you would need to determine its proximity to the outside air damper. Taken together, an air conditioner doesn't have to purify the air, as it's only designed to cool indoor air in a room, car, or office. If you have an air conditioning unit, you will have some type of filter, however, these types of filters cannot trap smoke particles. Although these filters are installed only to protect the air conditioning system from damage, in many cases they can help you eliminate smoke from the air.

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