Your eyes sting and your throat feels dry. Portland officially has the worst air quality in the world, due to the wildfires in the area. Here’re some resources to help you cope and improve your indoor air quality.


Air filters (folks with central air)

If you have central air in your home, you can upgrade the filter in the system to better remove particles from wildfire smoke.

Where do I change my air filter?

Depending on your HVAC system, the air filter can be hard to find. The most common location is in the return air duct or in the blower compartment as this allows the filter to clean the air before it reaches your unit. Other places you may find the air filter are in a slot above or below your HVAC unit, or right behind the return grills in your home (see picture below).

installing a furnace filter


9. How do I install an air filter?

Replacing or installing a new air filter is as easy as 1-2-3:

Step 1: Turn off the furnace or HVAC system.
Step 2: Remove the filter by sliding it out of the slot.
Step 3: Replace the filter by sliding a new, clean filter into the slot. If you have a reusable air filter, clean it, let it dry, and slide it back in.

Once finished, you’re free to turn the system back on.

Where can find a new air filter right now?

There has been a huge demand this week in Oregon for air filters. We asked our Office Manager, Robyn to locate some locally available filters, and came up with the following locations:

The American Lung Association recommends a filter with a MERV rating of 13 or above (as long as it works with your central air system). That’s a measure of efficiency that stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value; the higher the rating, the more particles in the air the filter catches, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

photo of merv 13 air filters

What if I don’t have Air Conditioning?

You aren’t alone. At least 271,300 residences in and around Portland are without an air conditioning unit, according to a 2015 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. But you can seal up your house and keep the air fresh on a budget. Read on.

Air purifiers

Make sure your air purifier does not produce ozone, which irritates the lungs. Even low levels of exposure to the gas can harm your health.

When buying an air purifier, stay away from terms like “electronic” and “ionizing.”

Make sure that the machine is up for the job by matching the purifier’s capacity to the square footage of the room you want to filter. Consumer Reports also has an air purifier buying guide, as does the Buyer’s Guide.

DIY box fan purifier

You can also make your own air purifier with a filter rated Merv 13 and a box fan.

caption: Don't skimp on the Merv 13. It is tempting to buy a filter with a lower number, but 13 is necessary to screen out the smoke particles.

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Don’t skimp on the Merv 13. It is tempting to buy a filter with a lower number, but 13 is necessary to screen out the smoke particles.

Shoes Off

Consider getting a “welcome mat,” with tight ribbing, like what you’d see at the entrance to a mall.

The American Lung Association recommends removing your shoes at home, or at least using floor mats at the door, so you don’t track anything in.

Particles that have settled outside can get stuck to the bottom of shoes. Walking over this mat can help prevent these particles inside the home.

Protect your indoor air

When the air gets smoky, reduce your exposure as much as possible; stay inside and close the windows and doors to keep smoke out.

If it seems smoke is still coming in, putting a wet towel at the cracks of the doors and windows can also help.

Consider adopting some houseplants to help with your indoor air quality.


We hope these tips help you improve your air quality this week. We pray for rain to put out the fires, and wind to drive out the smoke. But, we are all in this together.


If we can be of help, don’t hesitate to reach out.