Leavenworth Forest Fires, Wildfire Smoke and Indoor Air Quality

 Thanks to Don Hester of NCW Home Inspections for sharing with us his thoughts on wildfire smoke and indoor air quality.

As most of us in Leavenworth and Wenatchee have seen, breathed and muddled through, fire season and the related wildfire smoke has been more severe in the last several years.


                                                                Wildfires as of Aug 20th, 2018


With air quality reaching “Hazardous levels” it is recommended to stay indoors.


First what are we dealing with?

Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of various molecules and particulate matter, mainly consisting of carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons, organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides (NOX), trace minerals, and particulate matter.

From the Washington State Dept of Health (DOH)

“Particles with diameters less than 10 microns (PM10) are upper respiratory tract and eye irritants. Smaller particles (PM2.5) are the greatest health concern – they can be inhaled deep into the lungs, and can affect respiratory and heart health.  Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas produced by incomplete combustion, is a particular health concern and levels are highest during the smoldering stages of a fire.”



What should we do about wildfire smoke and indoor air quality?

To deal with the outdoor pollution we should stay indoors and close all windows. We now are going to rely on mechanical ventilation to help deal with the air quality. We will want to run our Air Conditioner and close off the fresh air intake.

Most people do not give much thought to their air filters on the HVAC system but now is time to think about them. Upgrading you filter to one with a “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value” of (MERV) 8 is recommended.


This is where system design and filtration collide. When we increase filtration (MERV Rating) it will put a restriction on the air handler causing it to work harder. Having a larger filter pleat help with air passing through the filter. Ideally, we should have a 2 inch or better pleat. The larger filters such as 4 and 5-inch pleats will give you even better ability to filter your air. We will need to change the filters more often



By using HEPA filters with activated charcoal or alumina, especially those impregnated with potassium permanganate or zeolite will adsorb gases in the smoke, including NOX and some of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene as well as removing fine particulates.

These filters will be more expensive and most likely will need more frequent replacement.




If your system can not keep up or you do not have a central air system, the use of portable high efficiency HEPA air cleaners can be used. These typically run from $100 to $1000 dollars.

From the EPA-
“Room air cleaner units should be sized to provide a filtered airflow at least two to three times the room volume per hour. Most portable units will state on the package the unit’s airflow rate, the room size it is suitable for, its particle removal efficiency, and perhaps its Clean Air Delivery Rate, or CADR. The CADR is a rating that combines efficiency and airflow.”




Fire Camp in Entiat Washington

Lastly you want to keep your home clean, but you do not want to vacuum the house, unless you are using a HEPA-filter equipped vacuum.  The activity will stir up more dust and particulates and will just create more indoor air pollution.

Here are a few links to read up on dealing with the wildfire smoke and indoor air quality.





NCW Home Inspections, LLC  is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington


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Allyson and Geordie Romer

Leavenworth real estate agents - Allyson and Geordie Romer

For over a decade, Allyson and Geordie have been serving clients in the Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth real estate market. Together, they work tirelessly to stay on top of the regional market and present the most relevant opportunities to their clientele.

When not in the office, they can be found exploring the endless recreation opportunities of the area in all of its seasons.




Geordie provided excellent real estate representation! We appreciated his detailed knowledge of the market, his up front and honest approach, and his negotiation skills.
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Laura Anderson



As “west siders” looking for a getaway near Leavenworth, Geordie provided insight … his knowledge of design features important in a “snowy winter wonderland” was appreciated. Thanks Geordie!
As reviewed on Zillow  –

- Jean Stern



Geordie made this somewhat complicated transition easier for us…going above and beyond to help us work through issues that came up during the sale of our parents home. We appreciated his knowledge, attentiveness to details and his willing spirit.
Our family is grateful for Geordie!
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Terry Foster



Geordie was great in every way. We have been looking in the Leavenworth area for some time, and Geordie was absolutely the best for local knowledge, history and depth on neighborhoods, developments and the local market trends. He was very quick to respond (even when he was on his vacation) and worked very diligently to get all of our questions answered in a very timely fashion. We would recommend him highly to anyone looking to buy or sell a home. Very friendly, and helped us navigate all of the local options before we made an offer on the property that we purchased. Thank you, Geordie!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Ryan Olsen



It was such a pleasure to work with Geordie and his wife, Allyson on our cabin purchase. They showed us a variety of locations, listened to what we wanted and helped us find the perfect match. Everything was smooth and not stressful, just relaxed and easy. We would definitely recommend Geordie and use him again if the need arises!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Cammie Schlosser


Moving to Leavenworth?

Are you looking for a cabin or a condo in Leavenworth that your family can use as a home base when climbing, skiing or hiking around Leavenworth or Lake Wenatchee?

Maybe you rent a house here and have decided to stay, surprised how a summer of rafting somehow turned into seven years.

Maybe it’s time to escape the hustle of the big city (and its rain) and move to Leavenworth with its four seasons.

Maybe you bought a condo years ago, don’t seem to use as much, and it’s time to sell.

Whatever your motivation, we are here to help. If you are buying a home, the best place to start is with our Homebuyer’s Guide to Leavenworth.