Prevent Carbon Monoxide in your Home

 

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can be generated in your own home without your knowledge. It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, which makes it very difficult to detect. Appliances such as space heaters, gas stoves, furnaces, heaters, and refrigerators can all emit carbon monoxide if poorly ventilated. A gas leak can also be a major cause of carbon monoxide emission. Even though carbon monoxide detectors are standard in most homes now, it is still important to recognize any signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide leaks in case your detector has problems.

Inspect High-risk Areas

Because of carbon monoxide’s nature, it is very difficult to detect. Make sure all appliances in your home are well-ventilated. Using appliances in an enclosed space can lead dangerous emissions. An idling car, for example, can fill up your garage with carbon monoxide, which can rapidly spread to your home.

Examine Symptoms

People affected by carbon monoxide generally show flu-like symptoms, or indigestion, headache, nausea, and light-headedness. This is another reason why most people do not make the connection with carbon monoxide. If all the members of the household have similar symptoms, and feel better when they are away from home, this could be an indication of carbon monoxide inside. Also remember to look for other signs in your home that can indicate risk factors.

Look Around the Home

There are some reliable indicators that should draw your attention to the presence of carbon monoxide. A stale, stuffy smell in a clean home is a warning sign. If you notice a burning smell, this is also a red flag. The smell may not be from carbon monoxide itself, but from other toxic gases being emitted by malfunctioning equipment. Excessive moisture on windows and walls, especially if they are close to a fuel-burning appliance, is also an indicator. However, the condensation could also be the result of excessive moisture in your home, so you need to rule out other possibilities before you can conclude that it is a carbon monoxide leak. If you have a pilot light on your gas stove, observe it for inconsistencies. If it continually goes out, it could be malfunctioning and emitting carbon monoxide. If the flames and pilot light on your gas stove are always blue and they are turning yellow, have it checked out. Be alert and on the watch for the smell of natural gas when you turn on a fuel-burning appliance.

If you notice an issue with the air quality in your home, or HVAC system, make sure to contact us. We can come and inspect the system to ensure it is working efficiently. It is important to have the issue inspected at the first sign, before delaying too long and it causes worse problems in the long run. By having the system checked regularly, your home will be warm and enjoyable this winter.

Cleaning the Ductwork this Fall

Just like replacing your furnace filter, air duct cleaning should be a part of your routine maintenance for any home containing a central air conditioning system, and there is no better time to have the ductwork cleaned than the later part of the fall season.

The air in your home could have pollutants because windows are often kept open at night to avoid running your cooling system. Increased foot traffic in and out of the home carrying with it air contaminants is also a reason. More time being spent outside means more time for you to accumulate contaminants that can find their way back inside your home and in your air duct system can lead to a decrease in air quality.

The fall is the best time to hire an HVAC contractor for air duct cleaning for a variety of reasons. The fall is typically a slow time for heating & cooling companies, which allow them to schedule dates much faster and usually offer seasonal discounted rates. With winter right around the corner, it is important to make sure any potential pollutants are removed so you and your family are not stuck breathing in dirty recycled air. This can often lead to health problems heading into the months where children and adults are much more susceptible to illnesses.

Many air duct cleaning also offer routine maintenance furnace tune-ups. Air duct cleaning can be a great opportunity to also have your furnace inspected to avoid potential furnace repair heading into the cold months ahead. Many factors go into your air duct cleaning cost, which can include the size of your home, layout of the ductwork, and also the amount of ductwork in your home.

If you are not sure if your home is in need of ductwork cleaning, there are some things to consider. If your home has pets, small children, anyone with allergies, or residents who smoke, duct cleaning is recommended. You can also contact us and we can advise you on if the ductwork needs to be cleaned.

Reasons Why the Thermostat May not Work

If your thermostat is having problems, whether it’s new or old, call us to help. Before jumping to the conclusion that your furnace is broken, know that it could be a malfunctioning thermostat, among other things, from heating and cooling systems that seem to have failed to an overworked system or duct work that needs attention. Most thermostat issues aren’t major issues so chances are, that caught early, it’s not going to be an emergency.

Check the power source. Your thermostat may just not be connected right or at all. A blown fuse, tripped circuit breaker or dead batteries will prevent the thermostat from turning on your furnace. Clean up any dust, dirt, spider webs and other debris. Any of these things can coat the inside of the thermostat and interfere with both electrical and mechanical functions of the thermostat. Put this on your get-ready-for-winter cleaning list. Just use a soft, clean brush to clean the inside components gently. Don’t get anything wet. Also you can use a can of compressed air, such as is used for electronics, to clear debris.

Check for any loose wires or terminal screws inside the thermostat. Make sure wires aren’t corroded or detached. Never remove the thermostat cover without removing the batteries or turning off the power at the fuse or breaker box. Tighten screws and secure loose wires if needed.

It may be time to replace your thermostat is it’s old. They aren’t meant to last forever and an old thermostat may be costing you a lot of money in wasted energy and time spent tinkering with an outdated model. There are great programmable thermostats available now that are easy to use and simple to connect to your existing HVAC system. With any issue you start to notice, make sure to contact us so we can inspect the system for you.

 

Preventing Air Pollution in your Home

A lack of proper air exchange can cause the air in your home to be up to five times more polluted than outside air. This can cause increased problems in those with asthma or allergies, and can result other serious health risks. Common sources of home indoor air pollution include:

  • Dust, pet dander, and pollen
  • Excess moisture from bathing and cooking
  • Smoke and fumes from fireplaces, candles, tobacco, and gas appliances
  • Harmful organic compounds released by some cleaners, adhesives, paints, and other products
  • Radon gas that can be emitted naturally by the ground in certain areas

Whole-House Ventilation Systems

One of the biggest trends in creating healthy indoor air is whole-house ventilation. There are two types of whole-house ventilation systems.

Heat Recovery Ventilators: HRV systems remove heat from the inside air before it’s exhausted to the outside, and use it to warm the incoming air.

Energy Recovery Ventilators: ERV systems manage both heat loss and the humidity in the air. An ERV system transfers some of the moisture in the humid air stream to the dryer air stream to recover the energy trapped in the moisture.

The bathroom is the biggest source of moisture in the home. The best line of defense against moisture in the bathroom is a quality vent fan. Install one in each bathroom; and use them during and for 15-20 minutes after bathing to remove excess moisture that can cause mold and mildew.

Also remember to change the air filter every one to three months. Install a high-quality air filter on your central heating/cooling system and replace it every one to three months to keep the system operating efficiently. Replace the air filter on your vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, which captures much finer particles than standard vacuum cleaner filters. Another option is to install a central vacuum system that exhausts the air outside your home. Use only cleaners, paints, adhesives, and building materials that are low in VOCs or contain no VOCs. Make sure new cabinets, furniture, and building materials such as plywood, particle board, and oriented strand board used in your home are not made with adhesives that contain formaldehyde. Some houseplants have been shown to actually absorb harmful VOCs from the air. Plants that provided the most benefit include philodendron, peace lily, snake plant, dracaena, and bamboo palm. If you ever notice an issue with the air in your home, make sure to contact us and we can inspect it for you.

 

Why Regular Inspections are Needed

 

The exterior condenser unit is the large box located on the side of the building that is designed to push heat from the inside of the building to the outdoors. Inside of the box are coils of pipe that are surrounded by thousands of thin metal “fins” that allow the coils more surface area to exchange heat.

  • Remove any leaves, spider webs and other debris from the unit’s exterior. Trim foliage back several feet from the unit to ensure proper air flow.
  • Remove the cover grille to clean any debris from the unit’s interior. A garden hose can be helpful for this task.
  • Straighten any bent fins with a tool called a fin comb.
  • Clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil at least once a year.  When they collect dirt, they may not function properly.

Condensate drain lines collect condensed water and drain it away from the unit.  They are located on the side of the inside fan unit.

  • Inspect the drain line for obstructions, such as algae and debris. If the line becomes blocked, water will back up into the drain pan and overflow, potentially causing a safety hazard or water damage to your home.
  • Make sure the hoses are secured and fit properly.

 

Air filters remove pollen, dust and other particles that would otherwise circulate indoors. Most filters are typically rectangular in shape and about 20 inches by 16 inches, and about 1 inch thick. They slide into the main ductwork near the inside fan unit. The filter should be periodically washed or replaced, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. A dirty air filter will not only degrade indoor air quality, but it will also strain the motor to work harder to move air through it, increasing energy costs and reducing energy efficiency. The filter should be replaced monthly during heavy use during the cooling seasons. You may need to change the filter more often if the air conditioner is in constant use, if building occupants have respiratory problems, if  you have pets with fur, or if dusty conditions are present.

 

 

 

Why Programmable Thermostats are Beneficial in your Home

 

Everything we have nowadays is “smart.” From our phones to our TV’s, the options are endless! So, of course, “smart” thermostats exists. We understand that with a hectic lifestyle, sometimes the smallest things can be a hassle. Programmable thermostats work to make your life a little bit easier. With the constant and drastic change of our weather, scheduling your thermostat can go a long way in keeping your home comfortable.

Saving Time

Instead of manually making changes to your thermostat, you can program it for different times and days. Program it to warm up your house 30 minutes before you get up, or program it to lower the temperature 5 minutes after you leave to work. Instead of having to do it yourself and maybe forgetting about it, you can program it in advance.

Energy Efficient

Instead of running your thermostat all day, programming it for the times that you actually need it can save up to 30% on energy costs. A lower electricity bill is always a good thing! Plus, the use of less energy is good for the environment. If you are noticing an increase in your monthly energy bill, make sure to look into a programmable thermostat.

Reduce Wear and Tear

By setting your thermostat automatically for the times you do use it; saves time, money, and extends the life of your heating and cooling system. Of course, we want you to use your heating and cooling for whenever you need it, but programming it avoids unnecessary use. The less wear on your system; the more use you will get out of it. This means fewer repairs and more savings. There are countless options to choose from when it comes to programmable thermostats. Depending on your needs, you can choose a thermostat that tracks your energy use, manages your indoor air quality, reminds you to replace your filters, etc. There are many of thermostats to choose from. Programmable thermostats are the future and the best way to keep your energy costs low. If you want to install a programmable thermostat in your home or you have questions about the features, give us a call.

 

The Benefits of Having Cleaner Air in your Home

 

Having a tight home is essential for energy-efficiency, but it can also cause poor indoor air quality if air pollutants are not properly filtered out. Pet dander and dust mites in the home can cause allergy and breathing problems, and more and more homeowners are looking for ways to improve air quality for themselves and their families.

Whole-home air-cleaning systems are increasingly popular and can be incorporated into almost any HVAC system—whether a new build or a retrofit—and are available in various sizes, types and price ranges.

One of the most economical options is an electrostatic recessed air cleaner. Designed to be low profile, these air cleaners look like register vents. They are concealed within a return air box and installed inconspicuously in a ceiling or a wall. The units are not tied to the HVAC system, so the installation takes only a few minutes. As air passes through the return vent, particulates and gases are trapped and filtered by the polarizing process in the core and an activated carbon filter. The core captures particles using a non-ionizing process; this means no creation of potentially harmful ozone. These types of cleaners are easy to maintain, requiring only a simple cleaning and replacement of the filter every 30 to 60 days. Other high-end electrostatic air-cleaning systems can be tied directly to the HVAC system and mounted between the air handler and the return ductwork.

When it comes to improving indoor air quality, whole-home air cleaners are powerful tools. With so many options available, you can also contact us, and we can advise you which one may be best for your home and lifestyle.

 

Why Changing the Filter is Important

There are a number of different types of filters available on the market, each offering different benefits, but the fact remains that all types of filters need to checked, maintained and changed in order to function properly and safely.

First of all, a clogged air filter can cause extensive damage to your system. If you check your air filter’s condition regularly, you ensure the longevity of your system, saving yourself thousands in possible repair and replacement costs. Dirt and neglect are one of the leading causes of heating and cooling systems failing, yet such failure is completely avoidable.

Changing the air filter in your system ensures cleaner, fresher, healthier air. This is better for everyone in your home, particularly children and the elderly, and most especially for those suffering from allergies or asthma. A clean air filter means you are not constantly circulating dust, dust mites, pollen and other small particles in the air. Instead, your system will be able to purify the air, leaving it clean and healthy.

Besides protecting the HVAC system from unnecessary damage, cleaning out or changing a clogged air filter will also save you a significant amount on operating costs. In simplest terms, a dirty air filter uses much more energy than a new, clean air filter, which means a much higher electricity bill for you. You can, by keeping your air filter clean and in good condition, save up to 15% on utility costs.

An air filter that is clogged means a harder working HVAC system, thus it also means a lot of carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gasses by extension being released. Something as simple as changing an air filter regularly can go a long way in making a difference. If you need to know how often to change the filter, make sure to contact us and we can advise you on a schedule that is beneficial for you and your home.

Improve the Air in your Home

 

If you think of pollution as something that happens outside, you might be surprised to learn that indoor air pollution can actually be worse than the grime and smog that occurs outdoors. In fact, those same energy-efficient, wonderfully-sealed windows that help keep pollutants out also help keep pollutants in. Dust mites, pet dander, chemicals from fragrances and cleaners, even chemicals from new paint, furniture and carpets can all accumulate to become harmful to your health, especially if you suffer from respiratory issues or allergies.

Warmer months bring higher humidity, and while we may go to great lengths to increase humidity during winter, too much humidity is bad for your health, too. Excess moisture in the air can lead to mold, which is a hazard even to the healthiest among us. For the very young or old, for those with compromised respiratory systems or illnesses, and for those who suffer allergies, mold can lead to serious respiratory complications. Increased moisture leads to an increase in bacteria, and it can also lead to the growth of dust mites.

If you have pets, summer is the time of year you probably find yourself following your four-legged friends around with a vacuum cleaner. During warmer months, pets shed more profusely, leading to an increase in airborne allergens like dander.

It’s a good idea to follow some simple precautions to keep air free of excessive pollutants, like making sure you keep pets groomed, vacuum often, and be sure to change the filters on your HVAC system regularly. You can also take advantage of HVAC technology to substantially reduce particles that contribute to indoor air pollution, respiratory problems and allergies, including UV lights and air purification systems.

The challenge inherent in air conditioning units is that the coil is perpetually wet, which can make it a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. To combat this, you can have UV lights installed inside your ductwork, the purpose of which is to disrupt the damp, dark environment loved by mold and bacteria. The UV rays also damage the physical structure of biological pollutants, preventing them from growing and multiplying, which is why hospitals use UV light to protect against infectious diseases. Another option is to use an air purification system, which will reduce airborne mold and bacteria particles. A good air purifier can eliminate as much as 99% of these harmful particles.

Some air purification systems use electrostatic precipitators to put an electrical charge on particles that are then trapped on collector plates that act as magnets. This works well for odors, too, because it can trap smoke particles that can pass through media filters. If you have any questions about your current HVAC system, or a new one, make sure to contact us.

Keeping your Home Cool and Comfortable

 

HVAC units are not all about the cold or warm air that is pumped into your home. Whether you need air conditioning repairs or you want to install a new system, you want to be sure that you understand more about HVAC units and their options to be sure that you will get maximum value from the money that you are spending. From indoor air cleaners to solar heating and cooling to hybrid systems and more, you want to do your research to ensure that you will get what you want and what you are paying for. If you are considering purchasing a new HVAC unit or are thinking about repairing your own, you want to understand more about the systems in general. This can go a long way to allowing you to get the most value from the system that you choose, as well as get the system that you will be most comfortable with.

 

Ductwork is the foundation of any HVAC unit, unless you have a ductless air conditioning system, as it is the conduit in which your air travels from the unit into your home or business. Having the ducts in the right location in your rooms can make the difference between keeping your home cool during the summer and warm during the winter. Duct cleaning can keep these ducts efficient for your use and make sure that you have the best chance possible at keeping your home or business in a comfortable temperature zone.

 

The energy that your HVAC unit will run on is another decision maker that you will have to consider. Whether you choose energy-efficient boilers, a geothermal heating and cooling system, or a solar heating and cooling system, you will want to be sure that you consider your needs as your wants as far as energy usage. Whether you choose a system that will work entirely on alternative energy or you choose one of the many hybrid systems, you will find one that will work great for you.

 

Some optional things that you will want to consider in an HVAC unit are indoor air cleaners, in-floor heating, comfort zone finder, and more. While you may think that these are not necessary options, you may be surprised by how much that they can add to your home. Keeping the air clean can help to keep everyone healthier, while having a comfort zone finder can help you to save money on your electrical costs. If you are tired of your feet being cold when you walk around during the winter, in-floor heating may be something you want to consider. By thinking about your family and your life, you will be able to determine which optional features you want to include.