Sunday, 24 January 2016

Indoor Air Pollution: How You can Protect Your Family

Heads of state of many countries, including President Obama, attended a recent international conference held in Paris; they highlighted the dangers of climate change and air pollution, and what crises lie in store for us all. A global initiative to tackle these issues will, hopefully, emerge soon.

In the meantime, you need to do what you can to protect your family from these dangers. You can’t do much about the outdoor situation, but you can certainly take a few steps to control indoor air pollution. It is a serious issue that could have serious implications on your family health. Some may be felt almost immediately, while others a few years later.

The immediate effects

The most common of the immediate effects of indoor air pollution may be felt affecting your eyes, nose and throat; you may experience bad irritation, recurring headaches, fatigue and dizziness.  These are usually short-term in nature, and could easily be cured.

However, if left untreated or if the indoor air quality remains poor for a long time, chronic conditions like asthma and bronchitis and other respiratory diseases can develop. In addition, prolonged exposure to pollution can cause severe eye strain and, over time, affect your vision.

The effect of indoor pollution varies from person to person. Some people may show symptoms almost immediately after being exposed to the pollution. For others, the symptoms may occur after some time. The severity will also vary from person to person. However, just because symptoms are not visible in someone, it does not mean that their health is perfect.

Colds and viral diseases may be caused by infection, but pollution could be either a cause or at least a major contributing factor. If any members of your family regularly fall sick presumably due to infections, it would be worthwhile to pay attention to the times and places where the symptoms become obvious. If it is related to a particular part of the home and whenever the affected person happens to be there, it is probable that the air quality of the spot is bad.

The long-term effects

Years of constant exposure to poor quality indoor air can lead to respiratory diseases, coronary problems, cancer or other debilitating, or even fatal diseases. Living a few years in a home with poor indoor air quality can cause these conditions years after the family has moved to a new location.  Ongoing research has linked poor indoor air quality to an ever-increasing list of major health issues.

You have two possible ways of ensuring the air quality in your home: 1) an awareness of the indoor air pollutants and constant effort to eradicate them; 2) prevention of outdoor pollutants entering your home and complicating the situation indoors.

The former is much better and safer and provides a long-term solution; however, it is more challenging and time-consuming. The latter, though not complete, is easier and more immediately practicable. The ideal thing to do is to combine both these ways and attack the problem.

Domestic HVAC system is a major shield for your family health that prevents outdoor air pollution. Just because it cools or heats adequately, it does not mean that the air indoors is clean. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the HVAC equipment is quite necessary.

Cleaning filters is something you may be able to do yourself; but regular inspection and servicing of other parts by qualified professionals is essential to keep your home as healthy as possible.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Troubleshooting Your Home HVAC Thermostat

If your house is too cold or too hot, the problem may be due to your HVAC thermostat. Troubleshooting your thermostat is not as difficult as you may think it is. Once you are aware of the basic issues, you may decide to do it on your own or get it fixed by a professional, but you know exactly what the trouble was. Here are listed for your benefit a few problems that might affect the normal function of a thermostat.

Check the location

Your thermostat should not be located near a bright lamp, TV, or close to an oven or any other source of heat. This is because the unit will read wrong temperatures, sending in turn wrong commands to the furnace or A/C.

Clean the unit

In case your thermostat malfunctions, it may just require a bit of cleaning. To clean the components, remove the lid and gently dust inside using a soft brush. To clean the contacts, gently slip a piece of paper in-between, pushing the paper back and forth.

Adjust the anticipator

If the furnace or air conditioner cycles on and off too frequently or too seldom try to adjust the anticipator — normally a flat pointer on a scale. In case heat stops and starts too often, move the anticipator a little higher. If it stops and starts infrequently, adjust it a little lower. Make sure you wait a couple of hours to check if the alterations are enough for your comfort.

Check batteries

Digital thermostats with keypads rarely fail. However, make sure you put in new batteries as and when required. Check all the wires too, and make sure everything is attached firmly to its mounting screw.

Set thermostat 5 degrees lower or higher than normal

Depending on which season you are in set the thermostat 5 degrees higher or lower.

Check the setting

Figure out if some other problem may be the cause for the device not to work correctly. Check whether the component is set correctly to ’Cool’ or ’Heat’. Ensure whether the primary circuit breaker of the air conditioner or furnace is set to ’On’.

Check wires if the system is not kicking on

Make sure that the wires within the thermostat are all in place. Choose the white and red wires if you have trouble with the furnace kicking on, or the green and red wires if the issue is with the A/C system coming on. Unscrew the wires from the specific terminals. Once you have loosened the screws, hold the wires, wrap them up together and turn on the breaker. In case the blower is turned on – for air conditioning or furnaces – the thermostat has stopped working.

With light cleaning and simple maintenance, thermostats, whether mechanical or electronic, will function extremely well. However, if you still have problems troubleshooting the thermostat on your own, it is best to call in a professional. They will help you not only to troubleshoot the issue, but also replace components that do not function.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Keeping Your House Properly Ventilated

Proper interior ventilation is important to ensure comfort and good health of your family. It helps you rid your house of smoke, moisture, indoor pollutants and cooking odors. Structural ventilation regulates heat levels inside the attic, reduces dampness in the basement and crawlspace, and keeps the moisture away from uninsulated walls.

Interior ventilation

Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries are major contributors towards moisture and odors. It is important to have three main exhaust units: bathroom exhaust fan, laundry exhaust fans and exterior-venting range hoods.

Most kitchens have range hoods that only "filter" and recycle the stovetop air rather than venting it out. It's recommended that you get rid of the smoky, greasy, steamy air with the help of proper ductwork. If the walls are covered in grease or the kitchen is smelly, you require an exterior-venting exhaust fan.

Airborne grease can make exhaust fans sticky, attracting dust and dirt. Clean the fan and grill blades two times a year, or every time they begin to look dirty. The filters need cleaning every few months or so, and the housing and the fan need a thorough cleaning bi-annually.

Structural ventilation

Having proper ventilation inside the crawlspace and the attic is important, in order to keep moisture and heat from rotting and roasting your house over a period of time.

It is important to create an upward air flow within the attic. Cool air flows inside through vents and out through the vents closer to the roof. The subarea and the attic may become tropical, if crud, insulation, or dead squirrels create blockages in the vents, or if there are not enough vents. Condensed water may soak the insulation, rendering it ineffective. Condensation from below and above can make its way in the house, ruining floor, ceiling, and wall finishes. In case you notice that the vents are blocked, clean them immediately.

Roof ventilation

If your attic is humid and hot during the summer, you may require installation of additional vents at the ridge and eaves of the roof. Make sure every single screen and vent is painted (to prevent any deterioration) and that every screen is secured to the vent’s frame. Damaged vents must be replaced. Robust vent screens prevent varmints of any kind from settling inside your attic.

Foundation ventilation

Moist air can lead to decay in the crawlspace. If the crawlspace is always moist and damp, or if there is mildew on the structure or walls, you may require better ventilation.

Extra vents can be difficult to install and may need special tools to slice through concrete block, lumber, brick and concrete. Do not poke holes inside the foundation. Instead call up a professional contractor to do the work for you.

Ventilation is as important as insulation to keep the house from damage. By following the ideas given above, you will keep your house in good, livable working condition. You will be happy that the walls, ceiling and circuit wires are well protected.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

5 Simple Steps for Your HVAC Maintenance

The following are five easy and simple steps for you to maintain your HVAC system in the best working condition throughout the year.

1. Corrosion prevention

The metal your HVAC oil tank is made of can get oxidized over a period of time due to air that helps accumulation of sludge and damage to the tank. A great preventative measure is to do a thorough cleaning every seven to ten years. In case you have an underground tank, it is best to switch it with a sheltered tank over the ground. This will reduce the possibility of damage caused by corrosion.

2. Tank protection

There are so many elements that lead to rusting of different parts, which in turn causes weakening of the structure. Tanks can handle only a certain amount of weight. Therefore, it is important for you to stay alert because if the tank gives way, the structure might just crack. Rusting tends to start from inside and so covering of the tank is just not enough. If the structure has remained uncovered for too long then it has to be replaced.

3. Inspection of leaks

Every single section of the heating system needs to be checked for oil leaks. You must take a closer look at the valves, delivery line, fittings and pipes. You should also look for leakages in the areas around grilles and air registers, floor joists, duct connections, and the heating unit. Clean all the leaking areas properly and seal them with foil tape or duct mastic for safety.

4. Burner cleaning:

For keeping the indoor heating dependable and trouble-free, you should check the state of your burner on a regular basis. In case the burner is covered with undesirable substances such as carbon residue, it will be impossible for the flame to brighten up to its optimal brilliance. Because of this, it may sputter partially in and out of existence leading to uneven heating. It is therefore necessary for you to clean the burner on a regular basis, and also to ensure that the heat exchanger does not crack. Clean burner will assist in increasing heating efficiency and reducing fuel costs.

5. Installation of cheap upgrades:

There are numerous other inexpensive ways to save repairs in the future. For instance, installation of a safety valve can be of a lot of help. You may also put in a fuel delivery line covered with a sleeve that prevents leaks. These installations can be performed by a HVAC professional to ensure that there are no errors.

By taking out time to care for your heating system, you will be able to save a lot of bother on future repairs that may require hundreds of dollars and several hours of time, especially when you are hard-pressed. Consult a professional heating and air conditioning contractor  for the right advice and informed options for your system.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

HVAC Systems: 4 Basic Facts You should Know

HVAC systems have become more and more commonplace in the United States. You can see these units in commercial buildings and homes. However, the issue is, most people still don’t know how to handle these machines properly. Some even think that such units do not require any kind of maintenance. Here are some four basic facts you should know about an HVAC system to get the most out of it.

What is your HVAC system?

An HVAC system refers to a commercial or residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit.  Technically, this includes the entire structure. The focus of this article is on whole-structure systems since they are the most popular, cost-effective and efficient. These systems normally comprise of an indoor unit, an outdoor unit, a web of duct work and a filter.

Fact 1: Not all systems are created equal

You have a variety of HVAC systems available for installation including those with AC/furnace combinations, heat pumps, and gas furnace hybrids that depend on heat pumps. The efficiency and quality of the HVAC can vary greatly, even when they are all required to follow performance guidelines.

Whether you are looking to buy a new HVAC system or are giving an upgrade to your older unit, it is extremely important to hire a professional service provider who can suggest the most efficient and reliable units available.

Fact 2: You can save money on utility and energy bills if you’re smart

The concept of ‘comfortable temperature’ varies from person to person, but the need to save money on the utility and energy bills is global! Saving more cash is as simple and easy as increasing the temperature through the thermostat. Using the right components along with proper insulation can save considerably on the heating and cooling bills.

Fact 3: HVAC maintenance is extremely important

Never underestimate the significance of regular, scheduled maintenance of your machine. Proper upkeep means fewer dollars spent on repairs and more money saved on utility and heating costs.

Early summer and spring are the best months for AC check-ups and maintenance. Fall is best for heating maintenance. Stay prepared with optimal operating efficiency before you need your HVAC in full blast.

Fact 4: Using dual fuel heat pumps is more beneficial

The effectiveness and productivity of heat pump HVAC systems is growing steadily in popularity, because they have the ability to do it all: they offer cooling during the warmer months and heating during the cooler months, that too at a reasonable price.

Program the dual heat pump system to function with the outdoor temperatures. Decide an upper range to activate the electric heat pump and decide on a lower range to trigger the other fuel pump.

Apart from keeping these facts in mind, it's always a good idea to contact a local HVAC contractor for tackling any concerns or questions about your HVAC needs. They will make sure your needs are well taken care of. One of the best ways to search for reputed HVAC contractors is to search online.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Various Types of HVAC systems You Should Know

You have already performed an energy efficiency assessment of your house and have gotten some extra insulation done. The next thing on your mind is to call an HVAC expert and decide on the right HVAC unit.

Before taking an expert’s advice, you must perform a quick research on the types of units available today. In fact, you have a range of options that newer systems provide which are briefly listed below.

Air Conditioning and Heating Split System

This is believed to be one of the most traditional HVAC systems. With a split unit, you have parts located both outside and inside your house. An advanced split system comprises the following parts.

  1. A/C: Cools refrigerant
  2. Evaporator coil and furnaces, or fan coil: circulates air and converts refrigerant
  3. Ducts: transports the air throughout the house
  4. Control or thermostats: an interface that helps in controlling the system
Hybrid Heat Split System

A hybrid heat split system is an energy-efficient substitute of the conventional air conditioning and heating split system. The availability of a heat pump provides the option of electricity-fueled air conditioning or heating. A competitively priced hybrid heat split system comprises the following.

  1. Heat Pump: heats and cools refrigerant
  2. Evaporator coil and furnaces: circulates air and converts refrigerant
  3. Ducts: transports the air throughout the house
  4. Control or Thermostat: an interface that helps to control the system
  5. Accessories: such as air purifiers, air cleaners, humidifiers, ventilators and the like, to maintain air quality.
Duct-Free System

Duct-free systems are the ones that can be installed in spaces where the normal ducted systems are hard to fit. In fact, they are the best complement to a ducted system. These units offer a combination of the following.

  1. Compact Fan Coil: circulates air, converts refrigerant
  2. Air Conditioner or heat pump: heats or cools refrigerant
  3. Refrigerant wires or tubing: connects the fan coil to the outdoor unit
  4. Thermostat or control: the interface that helps control the system
  5. Accessories: such as air purifiers, air cleaners, humidifiers, ventilators and the like, to maintain air quality
Packaged Air Conditioning and Heating System

In case, your house does not have enough space to fit in multiple separate products of a split system, several companies offer packaged solutions. The options include the following.

  1. Packaged Products: an air conditioner or heat pump combined with an evaporator coil or fan coil in a single unit
  2. Thermostat or Control: the interface that helps in controlling the system
  3. Optional accessories: for indoor air quality such as air cleaners, humidifiers, air purifiers, ventilators or UV lamps.
Zoned Systems

Zoned HVAC systems are used for heating or cooling individual areas of the house by controlling zone dampers and valves inside the ductwork or vents that block the airflow selectively. Zoned systems have the ability to save you money and energy by only cooling or heating certain spaces, as needed.

HVAC systems today come in a variety of sizes and types, and the one you choose to add or upgrade should depend upon the size of your house and the climate of the area where you live. It is best to seek advice from HVAC experts before choosing a system.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Improving the Quality of the Indoor Air You Breathe: Four Great Ideas for You

Most of us may think of air pollution as something outside our homes and offices – haze, smog, low level ozone etc. The fact is the air inside our houses and offices can be as polluted as the outside air. The invisible culprits are household dust (lead), fire-retardants, formaldehyde, radon, chemicals from fragrances in conventional cleaners and fresheners and even deodorants and synthetic perfumes.

Four great ideas for you to improve indoor air quality

1.Keeping the floors fresh

  • Vacuum: Allergens and chemicals can start accumulating in household dust. By using a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate arrestance filter, you can reduce lead concentrations in your house. You can also get rid of other toxins, such as, PBDEs (brominated fire-retardant chemicals) and allergens like pet dander, pollen, and dust mites. 
  • Mop: Mopping helps to pick up dust left behind by vacuuming. Use plain water to catch any lingering allergens or dust. Advanced microfiber mops are known to capture more dirt and dust than the conventionalones.

2.Maintaining a healthy level of humidity

Mold and dust mites thrive in moisture. Keeping the humidity levels around 30%-50% can help you control the air pollutants. An air conditioner and a dehumidifier are extremely beneficial in reducing humidity indoors. Air conditioners also help reduce indoor pollen count -- another benefit for allergy sufferers.

Other tips for dehumidifying a house: 

  • Open your windows or use an exhaust fan when cooking, bathing or running the dishwasher.
  • Fix leaky plumbing.
  • Do not overwater the houseplants.
  • Empty the drip pans in your dehumidifier and window A/C.

3. No smoking inside your house

One of the reasons for indoor air pollution is cigarette smoke. It contains more than four thousand chemicals. As per research, secondhand smoke can increase a child's risk of developing respiratory and ear infections, cancer, and asthma. For a smoker, this addiction can cause breathing problems, cancer, stroke and heart attacks.

If you wish to stop smoking, nicotine-replacement therapy, support groups, and other medications can be very helpful. Find a way out that works best for you.

4. Checking your HVAC system for leaks:

One of the biggest causes for indoor air pollution is a leaking HVAC system. There can be times when a unit starts to emit carbon monoxide and other deadly gases inside the house. Being odorless, carbon monoxide is hard to detect and can only be evident through the detrimental health effects it begins to have on the members of the family. To avoid this situation, it is best to get your HVAC system checked and cleaned every season. You must also install carbon monoxide detectors within the house to be on the safer side.

It would be good for you to hire an expert HVAC cleaner to make sure your system is working efficiently and is at its best potential.

These little measures can go a long way in helping you keep your house fresh and your family healthy. Let in fresh air as often as you can and use chemical-free cleaners to clean the house.