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Lasqueti Hacks: Experimental Whole House Smoke Filter

    

A couple of years ago we experienced some heavy wildfire smoke pollution. When I removed our window-mounted cooling fan in the fall I noticed grey powder stuck in the insect screen. It was of passing interest at the time and easy to wash off. This winter Sue and I were both horrified and fascinated by John Vaillant’s amazing book “Fire Weather”. In it he details how wildfire smoke contains thousands of noxious components derived from burning homes, equipment, etc.

If you are connected to the grid. this problem can be easily addressed by closing all your windows and turning on your air conditioner. Although some people on Lasqueti can run a Mini-Split type of air conditioner, most of us do not have the power.

   

Our potential alternative is to use two window fans. One pulls air in, and one exhausts. In a two-level house that would mean one on the ground floor (preferably facing north) and the other one upstairs facing south. In a one-story house select the two windows with the greatest heat/cold differential. The prevailing wind directions at your location may also be a factor.

   

Generally, these would be the common AC fan units available at most hardware stores. You can also buy 12/24/48 VDC arrays of 2 to 4 fans online from Amazon. Power consumption is about 50W per unit at full speed. They rarely need to run 24 hours per day since the smoke seems to come and go. Visit https://wildfiresituation.nrs.gov.bc.ca/map for a local smoke forecast.

   

The filters need to be at least MERV 13 or MPR 1500. In both cases a higher number is better but harder to find. There are also certified HEPA filters which you will need to order online. Whatever you get will generally have to be cut to size with scissors and then have duct tape put around all the cut edges so the air doesn’t go sideways.

 

A simple wood frame, some insect screening on the room side to keep the filter flat, some hinges or angle brackets to keep it in place and that’s it. Our filters are 1 inch thick and come as 16 x 26 inches. We cut them down to 13 x 26.

   

If you have ideas for improvement, I would love to hear from you.
- Rob Linschoten rob.linschoten@gmail.com

Editors’ note: How ‘bout sending YOUR home improvement ideas to the newsletter?

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