Putting the "V" Back into HVAC: Ventilation Strategies and Successes

What Health Issues Are Growing In Your Home’s Air Ducts?

One of the most potentially dangerous areas of your home is the air ducts. While you will probably never be in them, there are a number of health hazards that can hide out and live there. While there is no solid proof that general cleaning of air ducts to get out normal household dust will prevent diseases, you should consider having it done if there is anyone in the home with allergies, or if your family seems to be getting ill more frequently. Here are a few of the not-so-normal things that your air ducts may be harboring that can cause people to get sick.

Mold

Air ducts can provide the ideal environment for mold spores to grow, especially when humidity is high. While some mold spores only pose a problem to those allergic to it, there are also some that affect everyone. Black mold can cause headaches, fatigue, a chronic cough, and problems with the respiratory system. If your family has the symptoms of a bad cold but can’t seem to get rid of it, you should have your home checked for mold. You may need to have two different inspections, one for the house and everything in it and one for the air ducts and HVAC system.

Rodents

Even if you have no problem with pet mice or rats, having wild ones running around in the duct work can put your family at risk of getting a Hantavirus infection. The excrement and urine from the rodents living in your air ducts can cause this very serious disease. If anyone is exhibiting the symptoms of the flu, and keeps getting it after it appears to be gone, it could be Hantavirus. The virus can be picked up by the air going through the ducts and pushed out into the house where everyone can inhale it.

Allergens

Dust, dander and pet hair in the house will be pulled into the HVAC system through the return air vent. They will then be dispersed through the house when the air is pushed through the HVAC system. This will not affect those lucky enough to be allergy-free, but can be deadly to anyone with allergies.

If you notice dust particles shooting out of the air vents in your home, you cannot be sure it is not carrying some type of germ too. Contact a company that does professional air duct cleaning, such as Dick  Kearsley Service Center. The technician will be able to let you know if there is something hiding out in there that can hurt you. 

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Three Ways Your Pets Might Be Damaging Your Air Conditioning Unit

If your air conditioning unit hasn’t been working as well as you would like, there is a chance that your pets might be the culprit. Pets can inadvertently do damage or cause your AC unit to work overtime. Here are three things your pet might be doing that are causing damage to your AC unit and how to avoid them.

1. Shedding Fur and Dander

If your cat or dog sheds quite a bit, this can make your AC unit less efficient by blocking vents and filling up air filters. Pets tend to shed more when the weather heats up, right when you will be cranking up the AC the most. Change air filters more often than recommended if you have furry friends. Another way to clear unwanted fur is to add vacuuming AC vents to your cleaning routine. If you can have your pets groomed or their fur clipped more often, this will help them track in less fur that leads to clogged vents.

2. Urinating on External AC Unit

Not all AC problems stem inside of the home. If your dog or cat is urinating on the AC unit outside of your home, this can do both superficial and real damage to your AC unit’s overall efficiency. Urine can leave unsightly stains on your exterior unit. Over time this can corrode through to the inner workings of your AC unit and cause damages that will need to be looked at by an air conditioning repair specialist. Dogs and cats both want to lay claim to their territory, so be sure to hose down the area around your AC unit. This will keep this area clear of continued markings from your pets and other animal visitors.

3. AC Overuse in Summer for Furry Guys

If you have pets that really feel the heat in the summer, you might be more apt to leave your AC unit on at lower temperatures during the day just for them. Leaving your AC unit on throughout the day and night during heat waves can cause your air conditioning unit to need maintenance more often, especially with an older unit. You might also have an industrious pet that lies on air conditioning vents, leading to disrupted airflow efficiency throughout the house. Try to think of alternatives that can help an overheated dog or cat. Get your pet’s fur trimmed, install fans, or invest in cooling mats for your pets in the summer to give your AC unit a break.

If your pet might be causing your AC unit to work inefficiently, just remember that your pets don’t know any better. It is up to you to take steps to ensure that your pet doesn’t inadvertently cause damage to your AC unit. You can co-exist with your pet and your AC in the summer if you are proactive about their needs.

For more information about making your AC unit last, see Tropic Air Conditioning INC or your local AC specialist.

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Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs A New Filter

If you are not familiar with your air conditioner’s maintenance needs, you may not realize that the filter should be replaced every one to six months. The exact frequency with which you should replace the filter varies based on the number of filters your air conditioner has, the type of filter, how often you run the unit and how dirty the air is where you live. However, if you have failed to do this, your unit will begin to give you signs that a filter change is overdue. If you are experiencing any of these problems, change your air conditioning filter as quickly as possible.

Your Air Conditioner is Running for Longer

One of the signs that your air conditioner filter is full is that your air conditioner is running for longer than it normally does. You probably have a general idea of how long your air conditioner cycles on and off for. If it seems like your air conditioner has been running a lot longer than normal, it probably has. When the filter is full, less air can pass through the filter. This means your air conditioner has less air to cool and blow into your home, which means your home takes a lot longer to cool. Replacing the filter can help immediately solve this problem.

Your Home Seems to Be Getting Dustier Faster

The other sign that a home’s air conditioner filter needs to be replaced is that your home seems to be getting dustier faster. When a filter is full, it can’t filter all of the impurities from the air. This is because the filter can’t hold those items due to a lack of space. So instead, the impurities travel through the filter and into your home. This can lead to a noticeable accumulation of dust on your blinds, coffee table or on any vents you have. Replacing the filter regularly will prevent this from happening.

If your air conditioner is running for longer than it should or your home is getting dustier faster, you should replace the filter in your air conditioning unit. However, these problems may also be indicative of other problems. A unit that runs for an extended period of time may be trying to tell you that the refrigerant is running low or that the fans are improperly working. And more dust coming into your home may be a sign that your duct work needs to be cleaned. If replacing the filter doesn’t solve your air conditioning problems, contact an air conditioning service for an inspection.

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Call An HVAC Contractor If You Notice These Three Issues With Your Air Conditioner

It’s a comforting feeling to know that your home’s air conditioner is running properly, especially when the weather forecast indicates that a heat wave is just around the corner. However, a broken-down air conditioner can quickly turn your cool and comfortable home into an environment that is hot and sweaty. It’s worthwhile to be aware of the early warning signs that indicate something with the air conditioner isn’t right. Upon noticing these symptoms, you can quickly have a licensed HVAC contractor visit your home to diagnose the problem and get it repaired in a timely manner. Here are three issues that should prompt you to call your contractor.

Reduced Flow Of Air

While it’s possible that a closed air vent is causing a lack of airflow in the room in question, there are a variety of other issues that can cause this issue. The simplest is likely a blocked air filter, which is a likely culprit if you haven’t taken the time to replace the filter on a consistent basis.

However, reduced airflow can also be indicative of a problem with the unit’s blower or even a blockage in one of your home’s air ducts. Regardless of the exact reason for the issue, your local HVAC contractor will be able to determine the cause and perform the necessary repairs to get the air conditioner working optimally again.

Home Not Cooling Down

Although things such as leaving your windows and doors open and running hot appliances can slow your air conditioner’s ability to cool down your home in a timely manner, it’s time to get your HVAC contractor on the phone if you’re noticing that it’s taking an excessively long time for the temperature to decrease in your living quarters. When your air conditioner isn’t cooling your home, it could be a sign of a problem with the condenser unit. Dealing with the problem promptly can reduce the risk of further damage to the condenser.

Rattling Noise

Although your air conditioner isn’t exactly silent when it runs, you shouldn’t hear any noise beyond the sound of air moving and a gentle humming sound in the background. If you begin to hear a metallic-sounding rattle, it’s a sign that the system might have loose parts somewhere. If left unattended, the parts can continue to loosen until they fail, which can put you in need of a major repair. It’s best to have your contractor–like one from D & W Heating & Air Conditioning Inc.–look at the system right away. 

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About Inefficient Heating & Cooling From An HVAC System

Are you lost as to why your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system has stopped reaching the temperature on the thermostat? When there are both heating and cooling problems from an HVAC system, there are a few different parts that can be the cause. Discover in this article why the HVAC system is not heating or cooling your house efficiently anymore.

There is a Problem with the Air Duct System

When there is inefficiency experienced with heating and cooling your home at the same time, it can mean that there is a problem with air flowing through the duct system. The problem can be as simple as you needing to hire a contractor to clean the air ducts out, especially if you have never had it done before. There might be a lot of dirt or rodent droppings in the air ducts that is creating a blockage and preventing air from flowing to the fullest extent. Rodent carcasses can also be in the ducts if you have a problem with them infesting your house. In the worst case scenario, it is possible that the air ducts are cracked and need to be replaced instead of cleaned.

The Thermostat is Not Working Correctly

If the thermostat to your HVAC system is damaged, it can easily interfere with the efficiency of heating and cooling your home. No matter how good of a condition other parts of the HVAC system are, nothing will work unless the thermostat works. There might be something wrong with the needle in the thermostat, which can cause you to set the temperature inaccurately. A broken thermostat needle can be replaced with a new one if it is the problem. If the entire thermostat is damaged, a contractor can install a new one for you. Your HVAC system should then begin being more efficient.

The System Heat Pump Doesn’t Work Right

Although it may seem like a heat pump is only used for warming up your house, it is also used for the air conditioning part of the HVAC system as well. Basically, a heat pump is the part of the system that exchanges warm air between the interior and exterior of your house. The pump is able to bring in warm air from outside when the heater is on (if it’s not too cold outside), and can pull warm air out of your house when the air conditioner is on. You might need to get the pump cleaned or replaced. Talk to an HVAC contractor (like Drew Green Heating & Cooling) to find out why your system is so inefficient!

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Pros And Cons Of The Different Types Of Baseboard Heaters

Central heating systems are a blessing during the winter months, but even the most efficient system can fail to reach certain areas of the home sufficiently. That is where baseboard heaters can help. The heaters are installed along the floor to provide heating in hard to reach places such as basements, drafty bedrooms, or a built-on room that wasn’t connected to the central heat directly.

There are two primary types of baseboard heaters: convection and hydronic. Each type of unit has its own merits and pitfalls and the choice will ultimately come down to your personal needs and preferences. Consult your HVAC installation company for more information and tailored advice.

Electric Convection

Convection baseboard heaters have electrical coils that heat up and disperse warm air out the vented casing. The only other part to the baseboard is the thermostat that can either attach directly to the casing or to a wall like a traditional central heating and cooling thermostat.

Advantages of electric convection baseboard heaters include low cost, easy installation, and low likelihood of repairs due to the limited number of components.

The trade-off is that these heaters aren’t the most efficient models on the market as the heaters only warm what is directly in front of them rather than dispersing the air well around the room. When you turn off the heaters, the room stops feeling warm pretty quickly.

Convection heaters could still be the best choice if you have a tight budget or the room in question only needs to be heated occasionally.

Electric Hydronic

Hydronic baseboard heaters combine electricity and oil fuel for more efficient heating. There are still electrical coils that heat up, but the coils heat the oil instead of the air. The heated oil then takes care of warming the air.

The oil can hold its heat for some time after the electrical coils turn off, which means these baseboard heaters can keep your room warmer for longer even if the heater isn’t running. However, the unit will take longer to produce the initial heat when turned on as you have to wait on the oil.

Another potential downside is the cost as hydronic units are substantially more expensive than convection even without factoring in the eventual need to replace the oil. The heat efficiency might prove worth the investment in a well used room as fewer of the hydronic units will be needed and the room will stay warmer overall. 

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Getting The Most Life From Your Air Conditioner

It seems that your air conditioner can just run forever without any attention from you. Some people try that and end up with an expensive air conditioner repair bill. It only takes a little time to make sure that your air conditioner is working properly and not straining to keep your house cool. Here are a few things you can do to help it do its job efficiently.

Change the Filter Regularly

Your AC draws in air from the house through an air filter before the air passes over the cooling coils. The filter picks up contaminants in the air, such as dirt, pollen and pet hair that can coat the coils, making the AC less effective. A dirty filter is hazardous to your cooling system.

As the filter clogs up, your air conditioner must work harder to pull enough air through the filter. This makes the motor strain and generate more heat. If this continues, the motor will begin to fail and will eventually stop. Replacing the motor is an expensive AC repair that can be avoided by regularly changing the filter, which costs just a few dollars. Depending on the season and the type of filter, change it every one to three months.

Cleaning the Condenser Fins

The condenser is the part of the air conditioner that sits outside next to your house. The condenser compresses the coolant which draws the heat out of the air in your house. The condenser generates a lot of heat and metal fins, and a fan keep this part of your AC cool. Yard debris and pollen can be drawn in and accumulate on the fins and condenser, making it harder to cool.

Shut the power off to the air conditioner. Remove the screws on the top of the condenser that hold on the cover over the fan. With a vacuum cleaner, a long wand and soft brush at the end, clean any dirt that you can reach from the fan and metal fins. If any of the fins are bent slightly, gently pull them back out straight. If large areas of fins have been pushed in, call a company that does AC repair in your area to repair those fins. Replace the cover and turn the power back on when done.

Don’t Make Your AC Work Harder Than For What It’s Rated

Every air conditioner manufacturer rates their units as to how many square feet they can cool. Pushing your AC to work beyond that makes it work harder, causing wear on the components. This will also happen if you’re trying to cool a very hot house down too much.

On a very hot day, if your AC stops working and your house still isn’t cooled down, check the condenser outside. If frost has developed on the coils, the system has overheated and the motor has shut off. When the ice melts and the motor cools, the AC will start up again. This is a sign that you’re working the unit too hard.

Turn the thermostat up to a warmer temperature and close off a few rooms. This will reduce the load on the air conditioner so it will continue working. If it cycles through too many of the freeze-stop-melt-restart cycles, the motor will be damaged.

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