Archive for September, 2011

The Effect of Dust Mites on Indoor Air Quality: A Pointer From Inglewood

Friday, September 30th, 2011

There are three types of indoor air pollutants in your Inglewood home– particles, bioaerosols and gases. Dust mites are a special case because they are nearly invisible to the eye, but represent a substantial bioaerosol that can make it harder to breathe and result in a number of sometimes debilitating symptoms.

What Are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are tiny arachnids related to ticks and spiders that cling to fabric like curtains, carpet and upholstery. They resemble dust in the air and thrive in high humidity conditions. So, the easiest way to treat a dust mite problem is with proper dehumidification. Knowing whether dust mites are a real problem if you simply have a lot of dust and pollen floating around is tough. Here are some common symptoms to look for:

  • Dizziness
  • Nose Irritation
  • Respiratory Irritation
  • Cough
  • Chest Tightness
  • Asthma (made worse)
  • Allergic Reactions

Because dust mites are alive when you breathe them in, they can cause severe irritation to your throat and lungs and result in a number of uncomfortable reactions – ranging from a runny nose to a full blown allergic reaction.

Getting Rid of Dust Mites

Tiny dust mites are among the larger air pollutants and can be captured by most MERV 10+ filters on the market. A HEPA filter will absolutely remove them as well, along with any other particulate or bioaerosols in your home.

If you suspect you have a dust mite problem, call an HVAC contractor. They can provide you with a better overview of what actual issues you might have and the best possible solution.

How to Maintain Good Indoor Air Quality: Tips From Laurel

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

There are a lot of reasons to clean your Laurel home. Guests, children, pets, simple peace of mind – without the right amount of cleaning, a messy house can quickly get out of control. But, don’t forget the health benefits of removing excess dust and sediment from your home with regular cleaning. To ensure your indoor air quality doesn’t take an unnecessary hit, here are a few basic cleaning tips you can implement right away.

  • Regular Vacuuming  – Most people vacuum occasionally when it’s obvious that carpets are getting a little messy. Consider increasing the frequency of your vacuuming to at least 3-4 times per week, possibly more, especially if you have pets. Regular vacuuming removes a lot of the airborne particles that can get into your lungs and cause allergies or asthma flare ups.
  • Remove Junk from Floor Spaces – Toys, garbage, clothes, and other random junk sitting on the floor can create air quality problems, especially if they are near or around vents.
  • Bathe and Brush Pets – Pet dander is a top contributor to indoor air quality problems. Bathe and brush your pets once a week to reduce hair loss and get rid of all that excess dander that builds up over time. Consider it an investment in the cleanliness of your home.
  • Shoes Outside – Shoes bring in pollen and other outdoor pollutants. Take them off outside and you will reduce the number of contaminants that make it inside.
  • Remove Moisture from Bathrooms – Bathroom moisture results in mold growth and the development of other allergens. Wipe down the walls of your shower and mop the floor daily to remove excess moisture after showers.
  • Food Waste – Throw away food waste immediately. Food in the sink or garbage can attracts bacteria and bugs and can result in mold growth very quickly. Consider a compost bucket or pile outside where food waste can be disposed or purchase a garbage disposal to get rid of it immediately after eating.

There are dozens more little things you can do that will reduce the amount of allergens and pollutants that build up in and around your home. Consider creating a simple calendar schedule you can follow from day to day to keep your indoor environment clean and healthy.

What to Do About Cool Spots? A Question of Kensington Park

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Sitting on your couch watching TV in your Kensington Park home should be an enjoyable experience, especially after a long day at the office. But, if your air conditioner deposits an abnormally high volume of cold air directly onto your couch, making you shiver despite the 90 degree heat outside, you may have a cool spot.

Cool spots are an unfortunate side effect of modern air conditioning technology. They occur when HVAC systems are improperly sized or ductwork is improperly installed. Other factors like insulation, vent configuration or window placement can also contribute to the presence of a cool spot (and possibly some hot spots). So, what can you do about it? There are a few options, starting with a quick inspection of the space.

Checking for Common Problems

You should check for a number of things. Most importantly, you need someone to measure the size of your HVAC system and compare it to the dimensions and particulars of your house. Usually, in the case of cool spots, the problem is directly related to an oversized system. When it turns on, even for a few minutes, it produces more cold air than is necessary, flooding your home with cooling. The thermostat recognizes this and the system shuts off soon after turning on. As a result, you’ll feel fluctuation between cold and warm as the system fails to properly condition the space.

Modern systems are sized for your house at 100% capacity. So, when the system turns on, it should stay on for a substantial period of time, keeping your home cool. Turning off and on frequently is bad for the system and wastes energy (plus it produces those pesky cool spots). Keep in mind that hot spots can also occur if the system isn’t powerful enough.

You should also look for vent placement and duct configuration. Improper placement of vents can lead to pooling of cool air that creates cool spots. By checking for potential problems in the layout of your HVAC system, you can determine if new vents or ducts are needed to solve the problem.

Fixing the Cool Spots

For now, you may just want to move to another part of the house. Cool spots rarely affect the entire space – they tend to cluster around vents and outlets and can usually be fixed by resizing or adjusting your system. However, only your contractor can tell you for sure what the best solution will be for your air conditioning issues.

Top 4 Upgrades for Your HVAC System in Big Pass

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Your HVAC system is a trusted part of your Big Pass home’s comfort system. Without it you would be cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and breathing in contaminant laden air year round. So, it’s important that you install the best systems and subsystems available for your HVAC system. Here are some options to keep in mind when looking for ways to get the most from your heating and cooling.

  • Air Filtration – Every air conditioning system and furnace comes with some form of air filtration, but is it enough? Standard filters are effective, but they are not always comprehensive. A good HEPA quality filter for your air handler and duct system will severely reduce the number of contaminants in your air supply and ensure that you and your family feel much better year round.
  • Ductwork Cleaning – If nothing else, having your ductwork cleaned on a regular basis removes excess mold, dusty, pollen, debris and other pollutants that can affect your health and the quality of the air you breathe. Schedule annual cleanings of your ductwork and a biannual testing to check for cracks and leaks.
  • Air Quality Controls – Beyond air filtration, you can upgrade your air handler’s ability to remove pollutants with a dedicated air cleaner and UV lights. These systems are installed in your air handler and/or ductwork to remove advanced pollutants like bacteria and mold and remove smaller particles including smoke, gas, and exhaust. Which system you need will depend on the level of contaminants in your home, so make sure you check with a contractor before choosing anything.

These upgrades are a great way to get more out of your HVAC system – in terms of both comfort and safety. Discuss your options with a contractor today to learn more.

What is R410A? A Question From Lido Key

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

If you’ve recently started researching a new air conditioner for your Lido Key home, you may have run across “R410A” – a newer form of refrigerant increasingly being used in high end air conditioning equipment. What is R410A and why is it different from the existing refrigerant most air conditioners have?

Chemical Composition

R-410A is a composite of diflouromethane and pentafluoromethane. This mixture of R-32 and R-125 creates a new compound designed to be used in commercial and residential air conditioning devices. Sometimes referred to as Puron, Genetron and EcoFluor, R-410A is a more environmentally friendly approach to cooling than the existing coolant most air conditioners use – R-22.

To date, R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for millions of devices. However, because R-22 will no longer be permitted in new devices starting in 2020, R-410A is growing in popularity rapidly and will soon become the standard refrigerant option in new devices.

Environmental Impact

Despite being very similar in chemical composition to other refrigerants like Freon and R-22, R-410A does not contribute to ozone depletion, a major step forward for air conditioning. However, it has as very similar global warming impact – producing nearly 1725% more damage than carbon dioxide. One of the factors that negates this high global warming risk is the fact that R-410A is being used in a more efficient manner than past refrigerants.

Choosing R-410A

You cannot simply replace the R-22 in your cooling system with R-410A. Because it requires higher pressure, the devices that run with R-410A must be built specifically for this refrigerant. As a result, many manufacturers are starting the transition to the new refrigerant now, in anticipation of the 2020 phase out date for R-22. If you are preparing to buy a new unit, keep this in mind. You can still buy R-22 devices, but they are not as environmentally friendly as this newer form of refrigerant.

Staying Safe with Clean Indoor Air: A Tip From Venice Gardens

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Millions of homeowners are living in polluted air and don’t even know it, including some homes in Venice Gardens. In fact, the quality of air inside homes is a significant factor influencing the health and wellbeing of millions annually. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.6 million people die every year as a result of poor indoor air quality. That makes it the 8th most common risk factor for death in the world and a huge contributor to cancers and other respiratory health problems.

So why is indoor air quality such an issue? Consider for a moment what a home does. At its core, a home is designed to keep you and your family protected from outside threats. It does that with solid walls, tightly sealed windows and a well-built roof over your heads. But the same technology that has made homes better sealed than ever also contributes to safety and health problems for residents of those homes by trapping air pollutants inside.

What’s at Stake?

The most common indoor air pollutants are mere irritants. Things like pollen, dust and dander are uncomfortable but don’t necessarily make anyone deathly ill. However, when a home is sealed up too tightly and the air isn’t filtered and cleaned regularly, the result can be downright dangerous to the occupants. Those seemingly innocuous pollutants suddenly make up a much larger percentage of the air inside.

In some cases, according to the WHO, the amount of smoke and other particles inside the home can be up to 100 times higher than what is considered safe outside. Now consider the other pollutants that can be inside the house. If pollen and dander cannot get out, what about exhaust from your stove, radon gas in your basement or mold spores in your ductwork.

You’re breathing all of it and the result is a significant increase in health risks for diseases like pneumonia, respiratory disease, and asthma – all of which are highly dangerous to anyone, but especially children and the elderly.

Solutions Abound

Luckily, this is not a problem you must deal with indefinitely. Modern HVAC systems integrate advanced ventilation technology, air filtration systems to remove the vast majority of these pollutants. But, first, you need to have them installed. Proper testing can help you determine what aspects of your home’s air supply need to be fixed first and foremost. From there it’s just a matter of finding the right contractor.

Why Won’t My Room Stay Warm or Cool? A Question From Lido Key

Friday, September 16th, 2011

When you have a home heating or cooling system installed, you expect it to keep all areas of your Lido Key home at the same temperature unless you tell it otherwise. But sometimes you’ll find that one of the rooms in your home just won’t stay warm no matter how high you turn up the heat. This can be a very frustrating situation, particularly if that room is one you use a lot.

Insulation and Ductwork Checkups

There are actually several possible reasons that a problem like this can develop. The first thing you should check is if there is adequate, proper insulation in the walls and the floor of the room. Even if you know that insulation is in place, it’s worth it to have a professional come take a look to see if the insulation there is still adequate. Even the best insulation doesn’t last forever, and once it breaks down, you could be losing a lot of heat to the outdoors in the winter.

If insulation isn’t the problem, it’s time to have someone examine your ductwork to see if it’s properly pressurized throughout or if there could be a break in the system somewhere leading to that room. If your home comfort system pumps heated and cooled air towards that room and that air is allowed to leak out along the way, you’ll never be able to maintain the comfort level you want.

Digging Deeper for Causes

Even if there is no break on the way to that particular room, a leak or blockage somewhere else can throw off the balance of the entire system, reducing how much temperature controlled air can reach that part of your home. These are all things that a professional duct tester can find and fix for you relatively easily and inexpensively.

Of course, it’s always possible that uneven heating and cooling is a symptom of a larger problem in your home heating and cooling system. But if that’s the case, you’re better off finding out sooner rather than later because the problem will only get worse when not addressed. No matter what the ultimate underlying cause for your uneven heating and cooling is, you’ll need a professional to come out and investigate before you can have it fixed for good.

How Can You Improve Your Home’s Air Quality? A Question From Bradenton Beach

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

One of the easiest ways to protect the health of your family is by maintaining high air quality in your Bradenton Beach home. Without good air quality, you run the risk of contracting Sick Building Syndrome or making other problems like allergies or asthma worse. Depending on what type of air quality system you already have in place, there are many things you can do to improve your air quality.

Filter Changes

The easiest way to improve air quality is to maintain the equipment you already have. Specifically, change your filters regularly. Filters each have a specified period of time for which they will last. However, if your home has high levels of larger contaminants like pollen and dander, you may need to change your filter more often.

Beyond filter changes, make sure your filtration device uses high quality HEPA filters, capable of stopping debris as small as 0.3 microns.

Cleaning Your Ducts and Equipment

Another easy way to reduce the load on your air quality system without paying for new filters every two months is to clean the equipment and the ducts in your house. Ductwork quickly gets clogged with dirt, dust, and other debris being blown by your furnace and air conditioner. If you have a boiler and radiant heat system this is less of an issue, but you should still check your air vents and any air conditioner units in your house for excess dirt and debris buildup.

Your air quality equipment should have a specified timeline for regular cleanings – usually every six months to one year depending on the size and quality of the equipment. A lot of this cleaning can be done by you, but for advanced cleaning or parts replacement, you may need a professional.

New Equipment

Finally, you can buy new equipment that does a better job of removing contaminants from your indoor air. If you have only a simple air filter, consider getting a purifier as well to remove other contaminants like smoke and gas. If you have a smaller piece of equipment that works well but longer keeps up with the entire house, there are larger purifiers on the market that can handle a bigger space. Additionally, proper ventilation can help with your indoor air quality if you don’t currently have enough fresh air circulating through your home.

No matter what your problem, there is a solution you can work toward to keep the indoor air quality of your home high.

What to Look For When a Home is 10 Years Old: A Guide From Gibsonton

Monday, September 12th, 2011

A ten year old home in Gibsonton is likely to be in great condition, presuming the previous owner(s) treated it well. But, there are some things you should watch out for that can arise in newer constructions, even if they were treated well.

Poor Craftsmanship

While it is possible for a 100 year old home to have poorly crafted parts, it’s highly unlikely if the house is still intact and is being sold this long after it was built. Newer homes, however, wouldn’t show signs of cheap materials or shoddy work until a bit later in their life. That’s why it is important to pay for a thorough inspection of the property as soon as possible – definitely before it is purchased and possibly again afterwards to check for possible improvements.

Specific things you should check for include heating and cooling systems, the insulation and the drywall used. Especially in freshly renovated or built houses it’s impossible to be sure a home was built with the highest standards of modern craftsmanship.

Proper Maintenance

For a home that is only 10 years old, there is a good chance you can get the original records for the heating and cooling system, any appliances in the home and all maintenance performed on them since their installation. If not, don’t fret – a good technician will be able to easily check the status of a piece during an inspection.

Overall, if your new home is only 10 years old, you are likely in a very good place. The home will be in good condition, the parts will be new, and your heating and cooling system should be efficient. Original parts installed during construction may need to be replaced, but otherwise, if everything else checks out, you can count on having a comfortable, wonderful place to live for some years to come.

What is a Matched HVAC System? A Question From Boyette

Friday, September 9th, 2011

It has been about 200 years since the arrival of interchangeable parts during the Industrial Revolution. Today in Boyette, we laud being able to take a malfunctioning part from a car, computer or vacuum cleaner, replace it with a newly minted part from any number of manufacturers, then keep right on plugging along.

Although this is a blessing in most arenas, when it comes to an HVAC system, it is not necessarily a good practice. Heating and cooling systems work best when they are matched – but what does that mean? And why does it matter?

Why Matched Parts Matter in HVAC Systems

When referring to HVAC systems, a matched system is one in which various components are designed to work together. For example, an air conditioner and furnace made by the same manufacturer can be matched, as can a furnace and a heat pump.

Typically, the matching is done in such a way that the “outdoor” components, such as air conditioners and heat pumps are designed to work best with their “indoor” partners, like air handlers and furnaces. There are also matched systems in which every component is matched to every other.

Efficiency Boosts

While this may seem to make maintenance and repairs a pain, the practice provides a big boost to the efficiency of the system. Because the components were designed and manufactured by the same team to work in harmony, the system performs optimally. Although you can often replace one component of a matched system with one from another manufacturer and have it work fine, the system can lose efficiency, often to a significant and noticeable extent.

For these reasons, it is best to make use of matched systems in your home whenever possible. This means choosing a new matched system to install, replacing broken parts with ones that match the rest of the system and even replacing older systems with newer ones to properly match, when necessary.

It may seem like a hassle at first, but it saves money in the long run by adding increased efficiency over unmatched systems.