Urgent: Shut Off Your ERVs and HRVs Immediately

Wildfire smoke from Canadian fires is polluting many States in the U.S. Protect your indoor air quality by shutting off ERVs and HRVs now.

As wildfires rage across Canada, their smoke is causing a significant air quality issue across many states in the U.S. This smoke, filled with dangerous particulates, is not something you want in your home. Unfortunately, devices designed to improve indoor air quality, such as Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) and Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs), can pull this polluted air into your well-sealed and insulated home. No good deed goes unpunished.

shut off your ervs

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ERVs and HRVs are designed to exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, helping to control humidity and remove pollutants. But when outdoor air is filled with smoke from wildfires, these devices need to be shut down. As I’ve pointed out many times, wood smoke especially is a nasty pollutant with serious health impacts.

2023 wildfire nyc

That’s not just opinion. According to the EPA, wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

So stop doomscrolling and hit the switch. Along with shutting down your ERVs and HRVs, here are some other actions you can take, if the smoke situation continues to get worse:

  • Use air purifiers with HEPA or MERV 13-plus filters: High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, which includes the size of smoke particles from wood smoke. You’ll need MERV 13 or higher filters to do the same job.
  • Wear masks: If you need to go outside, wear a mask. The N95 masks can filter out 95% of airborne particles. They help.
  • Maintain appropriate humidity levels: Keeping your indoor humidity between 30% and 50% can help reduce particulate matter in the air. Too high or too low humidity can make particulates more likely to stay airborne and be inhaled.
  • Seal your home: Make sure all windows and doors are closed. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal any gaps where smoke may enter. Consider temporary caulk for places you want to “unseal” later.

Mechanical ventilation in the form of ERVs or HRVs are important tools in keeping your indoor air clean and “diffusing” pollutants during normal times. But this summer’s Climate Change-enhanced wildfires are not normal. Their intensity in Canada has put millions of Americans at risk. You can turn them back on after the burning dies down. Good luck.


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