The Importance of Air Duct Cleaning

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Professional air duct cleaning can keep harmful pollutants from circulating and settling in your ductwork, improving indoor air quality and your family’s health. Learn more.

Air ducts are like the lungs of your home, supplying your HVAC system with a steady stream of fresh air. With so much dust, pollen, mold, and other harmful particles floating in your indoor air, your ductwork can quickly become a home for dirt. Professional air duct cleaning can keep harmful pollutants from circulating and settling in your ductwork.

What is air duct cleaning?

Your technician will inspect the system to make sure there’s no asbestos-containing materials, as those materials require specialized procedures to disturb or remove. They may cut out small holes in the ductwork to get inside. Using vacuum equipment and bristled brushes, your technician will dislodge and draw out particles and dust. Then, they’ll seal and re-insulate holes. Make sure to research and hire a qualified contractor with the resources and expertise to clean your air ducts safely. If not properly cleaned, you could face problems like damaged HVAC components or holes that have not been tightly sealed, compromising an airtight system.

How often should I schedule air duct cleaning?

According to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), air pollutants like dander, dust, and chemicals are re-circulated in your home five to seven times a day, on average. You should have your air ducts cleaned every three to five years, or more, depending on your lifestyle. In a home with pets, cigarette or cigar smoke, water damage, or renovation projects underway, more pollutants may be circulating. Schedule duct cleaning service if

  • You’re unsure whether previous homeowners cleaned the air ducts in your current residence.
  • There’s mold growth on visible parts inside your ducts or other heating system components.
  • Your ducts are infested with vermin like rodents or insects.
  • Your supply registers spew out dust when your HVAC system turns on.
  • Your family is experiencing unusual or unexplained respiratory problems (allergies, asthma, sore throat, etc.).

How do I keep my ducts clean on a daily basis?

Follow these tips from the pros:

  • To prevent dirt from getting into your system, use a high efficiency, manufacturer-recommended air filter for your HVAC system and change it regularly, especially if they clog frequently. When installing, make sure that air cannot get through gaps around the filter holder/frame.
  • When you schedule your regular HVAC maintenance service, ask your provider to clean cooling coils and drain pans.
  • If you are having renovations or construction work done, seal off supply and return registers throughout your home and don’t turn on your HVAC system until you’ve cleaned up the dust.
  • Vacuum and dust frequently.

WestAIR Heating & Cooling provides duct cleaning service with our innovative Rotobrush equipment. Using a powerful, specialized vacuum and cleaning devices, we draw air through your duct system to dislodge any debris that may be stuck on interior surfaces. We also offer air exchangers, air cleaners, whole house humidifiers, replacement filters, and more to improve indoor air quality. Contact us to learn more.

This entry was posted in Duct Cleaning,Indoor Air Quality and tagged , , , , ,

How Indoor Air Quality Impacts Your Family’s Health

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Indoor AirHumans inhale 11,000 to 15,000 liters of air per day. Most families spend more time in their home than anywhere else. Without proper ventilation, your indoor air could hold gases, chemicals, or other pollutants that can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation, allergies, asthma attacks, fatigue, and even cancer or long-term health complications. What’s even scarier? Ninety-eight percent of all airborne particles are below one micron (1/25,000 inch) in size and invisible to the naked eye.

Imagine a toxic soup of pollutants constantly re-circulated throughout your home, through your respiratory system, and into your bloodstream.

The most obvious pollutants are secondhand smoke, radon, and carbon monoxide, but harmful airborne particles could come from any of the following:

  • Gas, oil, kerosene, or wood stoves and fireplaces.
  • Building materials like insulation, carpet, cabinetry, and pressed wood products.
  • Personal care products and household chemicals like cleaning solutions, glues, and pastes.
  • Pesticides, pollen, pet dander, hair, or other fibers.
  • Dust mites, molds, and bacteria.

Children are more susceptible to all these things because their bodies are still developing. They breathe more air and eat more food in relation to their body weight than adults do. Properly maintained indoor air quality is especially important for people with asthma, allergies, chemical sensitivities, respiratory diseases, suppressed immune systems, or contact lenses. Here are some basic tips to make sure your home has clean, fresh air free of pollutants:

  • Invest in a whole house humidifier or a smaller unit. The Mayo Clinic recommends you keep your home between 30 and 50 percent humidity.
  • Make sure all vents are clear of obstructions and working properly.
  • Have your ducts cleaned and change your furnace filter regularly (check it once a month).
  • Buy a houseplant like a peace lily, dracaena, or garden mum to act as an air purifier.
  • Use an exhaust fan when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing.
  • Make sure gas stoves are well ventilated.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Use craft supplies in well-vented areas.
  • Minimize clutter.
  • Remove carpeting if possible.
  • Don’t wear outdoor shoes around the house.
  • Keep the trash covered.
  • Test your home for radon and use carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Fix water leaks.
  • Dust surfaces.
  • Vacuum frequently, and open windows when you do.
  • Wash bedding weekly.
  • Keep a lid on scented candles when not in use.

WestAIR Heating & Cooling wants to help you live a healthier life with safe indoor air quality. We offer air exchangers, air cleaners, whole house humidifiers, replacement filters, and more to equip your HVAC system against contaminants. We also provide duct cleaning service so you can rest assured your air has clean, unobstructed passage throughout your home. Contact us to learn more.

This entry was posted in Duct Cleaning,Health Tips,Indoor Air Quality and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Dry Indoor Air + Humidification

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Dry indoor airWinter is already uncomfortable enough with the freezing temperatures, so why not make the most of your cozy indoor living space where you can escape the dry and brittle cold air? Lower temperatures mean lower humidity levels because cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air. Here are two simple reasons your dry indoor air needs humidification:

Your comfort

Overly dry air can make your skin and respiratory problems flare up, from asthma and allergies to eczema and acne. If your home air is too dry, it could cause bloody noses, chapped lips, and itchy skin. Your respiratory system is lined with moist membranes in your nose and throat that prevent bacteria, viruses, dirt, and dust from getting into your lungs. If they are dry, they won’t keep particles out effectively, making you more vulnerable to sickness.

In addition, dry air increases static electricity, which produces painful shocks and zaps when you walk around on the carpet or touch metal surfaces. It will also make your hair more difficult to maintain and cause your clothes to stick to you uncomfortably.

Your belongings

Dry air will pull moisture from hardwood floors, furniture, and even the walls, doors, and general frame of your home, making it contract and shift. As the frame shifts, doors may be hard to open and close, or gaps may form between the ceiling, walls, windows, and door frames.

Books, artwork, and even the paint or wallpaper on your walls can get brittle, warped, or wrinkled in dry air. If you have musical instruments, they may lose their shape and tune. Humid air feels warmer, so moderate levels of humidity can allow you to set the thermostat lower and give your heating system a break. That way, you can live comfortably and save money on your heating bill and maintenance. But be careful: excess moisture may cause mold, bacteria, and mildew growth in poorly ventilated areas of your home.

You can keep an ideal, comfortable humidity level between 40 and 60 percent with a whole home humidifier. WestAIR Heating & Cooling offers whole house humidifiers that will keep every room of your home comfortable, even in the dry winter. Our humidifiers will automatically work with your HVAC system to distribute moisture throughout your home’s entire duct system. We offer programmable thermostats that come with a built-in humidity sensor so you can test and regulate home humidity and avoid going overboard.

Contact us to learn more about your heating and indoor air quality options.

This entry was posted in Energy Savings,Furnace,Health Tips,Heating,Humidifier,Indoor Air Quality,Tips,Winter and tagged , , , ,

Holiday Home Safety Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

The holidays are exciting, filled with gift shopping, decorating, cooking, hosting the extended family, or traveling to a Christmas getaway. But don’t overlook small details that are mishaps waiting to happen. From the ten-year-old string of decorative lights wrapped around your banister to the poisonous poinsettia plant sitting on your dining room table, the festivities bring many hazards to your home. Have an enjoyable and accident-free Christmas season with these holiday home safety tips:

Electrical threats

Before you hang up electric decorations, inspect them for damage. Look for cracked sockets, loose connections, or frayed cords. An exposed wire could light up your Christmas tree in flames. Never overload outlets or connect more than three strings of electrical lights. They could trip a breaker or start a fire.

Fire

You should always check your fireplace and chimney before you light it. Santa may not be peeking down at you from the roof, but there could be debris blocking smoke and creating a fire hazard. If you have a real Christmas tree, water it daily, and don’t put it too close to the fireplace. Keep combustibles at least three feet from heat sources and never block exits in case of a fire.

Decorating danger

In a quest to outdo last year’s Christmas décor, many homeowners take decorating to new heights, quite literally. If you plan to hang sparkling ornaments or lights in high places, don’t climb or stand on furniture. Use a proper ladder and have someone support the base if you need to hang decorations beyond your normal reach.

Theft

Try not to order anything online to be shipped to your home if you plan to be away for the holidays. Thieves can easily run up and snatch retail packages on a porch. Don’t leave large displays of holiday gifts near windows where passersby can easily see them. If possible, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you are away so you don’t have to worry about holiday theft.

Cold weather

If you plan to be away for the holidays, take steps to prevent frozen pipes. Basement, attic, and garage pipes are most susceptible to freezing and bursting in cold temps, causing significant water damage in a matter of hours. Make sure to close your garage door when you leave to keep the cold air out. Open kitchen and cabinet doors so the warmer air throughout your home will circulate and reach the pipes in your walls. Set the thermostat to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

WestAIR Heating & Cooling offers programmable thermostats with vacation-hold settings so you can easily stay in control of your heat while you are away. We can install a gas fireplace so you don’t have to worry about the decorations, Christmas tree, or wrapping paper falling into the hearth and catching fire. Contact us to learn more about your heating options this holiday season.

This entry was posted in Winter and tagged , , , , ,

10 Signs You Should Replace Your Furnace

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

 

If you’re like most homeowners, you want to get the most out of your furnace and avoid the cost of replacement for as long as possible so you make sure it’s outlived its parts. When is it time to say goodbye to your furnace and buy a newer model? The excessive amount of money you put into utility bills and repairs for your old furnace may indicate it’s time for an upgrade. Though expensive, a newer model can increase your home comfort, efficiency, savings, and safety in the long run.

Signs you need a new furnace

The average furnace will last 15 to 20 years if it is installed properly and regularly serviced. But you’ll have to get a new one eventually, and a newer model can save up to 20 percent in energy. Here are 10 signs that you may need to replace your furnace:

  1. If you’re calling for repair services too often.
  2. If your furnace repair costs 50 percent or more than it would to replace.
  3. If it’s over 15 years old.
  4. If your furnace is making loud sounds (rattling, popping, humming, or screeching).
  5. If your furnace is short cycling.
  6. If your heating bill has increased even though you aren’t changing the thermostats.
  7. If you set the thermostat, but your home is not heated evenly.
  8. If you notice soot around the registers. Older furnaces spew dust, dirt, or rust particles.
  9. If there’s a crack in the heat exchanger. Carbon monoxide could be leaking and poisoning your home.
  10. If you notice rust, cracks, or corrosion on or around furnace components.

Why upgrade my furnace now?

With new technology, you can easily and conveniently regulate the temperatures in your home and be more comfortable, while saving energy. Buying a new furnace can be a planned home improvement or a panic replacement. Don’t wait until it breaks down in the freezing cold of winter. In your desperation for a warm house, you may not take the proper time to research and choose a furnace with the best deals.

But first, have an HVAC technician evaluate your entire heating system. Maybe it only needs a simple repair, like a new filter or thermostat.  The WestAIR service team is here to help you make a sound decision so you can prevent costly breakdowns and save money. When it comes time to replace your furnace, our HVAC technicians will help you choose the right make and model for your home. We recommend Rheem® furnaces for their energy savings, advanced features, and reliability. Contact WestAIR today for more information.

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Carbon Monoxide Awareness

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless gas, making it difficult to know when you’ve been exposed. Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common fatal pollutant in many countries. As the weather turns cooler and we turn on our heating systems, it’s important to increase your awareness and take extra precautions.

What Causes Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Burning fossil fuels produce carbon monoxide when oxygen levels are too low to create carbon dioxide. Gas, oil, wood, and coal burning appliances like boilers, central heating systems, water heaters, dryers, and generators are all sources of CO. Smoking cigarettes increases CO levels by 10-40 parts per million. Inhaling fumes from paint thinners and products containing methylene chloride, especially in poorly ventilated areas, causes carbon monoxide to metabolize in the bloodstream.  Cars running in a closed garage can produce a deadly amount of carbon monoxide in only ten minutes! Some factory and industrial workers have exposure to carbon monoxide as well.

Carbon Monoxide Levels at Parts Per Million

The concentration of carbon monoxide is measured in parts per million (PPM), and effects from exposure vary.

  • 0 PPM – Fresh air.
  • 10-24 PPM — Possible long-term exposure risk.
  • 35 PPM — OSHA standard for maximum exposure during an 8-hour work day.
  • 100 PPM — Causes headaches after 1-2 hours.
  • 200 PPM — Causes dizziness, nausea, fatigue.
  • 400 PPM — Life-threatening after 3 hours of exposure.
  • 800 PPM — Death within 2-3 hours of exposure.
  • 1600 PPM — Death within 1-2 hours of exposure.

Symptoms

Inhaling CO turns your hemoglobin into carboxyhemoglobin, which prevents your blood from absorbing oxygen. Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in case you are in an area without a working alarm.

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
  • Blurred Vision
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness

Risks from CO Exposure

Anyone can be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Prolonged exposure to CO can lead to seizures, coma, and death. Treatment requires administering 100 percent oxygen, and risk of death reduces as the oxygen brings the HbCO count down to less than 10 percent. Carbon monoxide poisoning is considered an anoxic brain injury, causing long-term neurological problems like memory loss, confusion, and poor coordination.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home. Check and replace your batteries twice a year and upgrade your alarm every five years. Schedule annual maintenance on any gas, oil, or coal appliances. Don’t use grills or generators indoors and keep your home and garage properly ventilated.

Contact us to learn more about the safety of your heating or ventilation equipment and to schedule your annual maintenance.

This entry was posted in Garage,Health Tips,Heating,Tips and tagged , , , , , , ,

Are Radiant Infloor Heating Systems Worth the Cost?

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Are Radiant Infloor Heating Systems Worth the Cost?

Have you ever been to a home or building with heated floors? Even on a chilly winter evening, your feet feel warm. The air around you feels comfortable, not drafty. Some homeowners find heated floors a necessity, while others think they’re an expensive and frivolous feature. Let’s consider the pros and cons of radiant infloor heating.

Advantages

Energy Efficiency

Traditional boiler and forced air systems heat the nearest area of space. The radiator can have an internal temperature between 159-167 degrees Fahrenheit just to heat up a room. By the time the warm air makes its way to the other side of the room, the air cools below the programmed temperature. Depending on the location and size of the room, a radiator or forced air can create inconsistent temperatures.

Infloor heating covers the entire floor. Heat rises, so no matter where you walk, the room will reflect the correct temperature. Furthermore, the source typically heats up between 80 – 90 degrees. Best of all, radiant heat can save 15 to 40 percent on energy bills because of its efficient technology.

Minimal Maintenance

Did you know you should have your furnace checked once a year, as well as change your air filter multiple times a year? Service visits costs add up, especially if your heating system needs replacement parts. There are no maintenance costs with radiant infloor heating, and some brands guarantee their product for decades!

Space

Boiler systems and forced air take up space. Boiler radiators reduce physical space in a room and can create challenges with furniture placement. Forced air systems make use of ceiling, wall, and floor space for ducts and vents. With infloor heating, the flooring conceals all equipment, allowing for an open, spacious feel.

Comfort

We all have experienced the shocking feeling of bare feet on a cold floor during the winter. With radiant infloor heating, your feet will feel cozy all winter long, even without socks.

Versatility

Infloor heating works with all floor types: wood, stone, tile, carpet, laminate, and more.

Safety

Radiators can pose safety hazards and cause injuries such as burns and cuts. In addition, forced air reduces oxygen and the thermal circulation kicks up dust, which can aggravate allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. Radiant heat keeps air fresh and oxygen-rich and dust out of the air.

Disadvantages

Electric heating installation costs $10 to $20 per square foot. Connecting the system to your power supply adds an extra few hundred dollars to the bill. Another disadvantage—the process takes one to two days to dry, because of leveling compound that tops the thermal mat.  Water-based systems cost more than double that of electric heating and require installation during the build phase of a new home. Lastly, radiant infloor heating adds about half an inch to the floor. Experts recommend using insulation boards underneath, increasing height by approximately an inch more.

Many homeowners say that the advantages of infloor heating outweigh the disadvantages, and the cost of installation is ultimately worth it. You don’t need to build a new home to try radiant infloor heating. If it’s time to remodel your bathroom or basement, look into infloor heating for added comfort, improved energy efficiency, and increased resale value.

Contact WestAIR Heating & Cooling to learn more about installing radiant infloor heating.

This entry was posted in Heating,Winter and tagged , ,

What is Automatic Zoning?

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

What is Automatic Zoning?Artificial Intelligence. Self-Driving cars. Virtual Assistants. Every day, advancements in technology amaze and inspire us to automate and simplify our lives. So, what’s stopping you from getting smart with your HVAC system?

Home Automation

Automatic zoning or smart zoning, a category of smart home technology, allows you to control the temperature of each living space or zone in your home. Your bedroom or living room are primary zones that most people like to set to different temperatures. The issue? Older thermostats read the temperature in the middle of the home. Basements end up feeling cooler while second story rooms become warmer. Automatic zoning uses motorized dampers inside your ductwork that control the airflow to each zone. Select a zone and set a comfortable temperature using your smartphone or other device. The control panel in your HVAC system receives the information from your thermostat to adjust the dampers and temperature to your desired settings. It’s that simple!

New Technology

Zoning your HVAC system is not necessarily new technology but monitoring your setting from a device is. In the past, homeowners installed multiple thermostats or HVAC units to control these systems. Now you can regulate the temperature through one system in one location without ever touching a thermostat. If a room is not in use, automatic zoning reroutes the air to save energy. You can control all these settings with your phone, online, or right on the thermostat. Manufacturers create smart thermostats to sync with your Wi-Fi and easily customize to your lifestyle. Adjust your home’s temperature from anywhere!

Add-on Features

When you install automatic zoning, you can add more features to your heating and cooling system, too.

Fresh Air Intake
Bring fresh air into your home while using your heating or cooling unit.

Air Cleaner
Install an air cleaner to remove pollutants such as dust, pollen, and contaminants throughout the home.

Humidifier
Add a humidifier to make cold seasons more comfortable while preserving your home. Dry air cracks and warps the woodwork and building materials.

WestAIR can create a comfortable atmosphere for any room in your home. Save on energy bills by installing energy efficient automatic zoning. Contact us today to learn more.

This entry was posted in AC,Air Conditioning,Cooling,Furnace,Heating,Indoor Air Quality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality In some cities, air pollution and smog create major health concerns. But the air inside of your home could contain more contaminates no matter where you live. Changing your living habits and investing in superior equipment will make major improvements to your indoor air quality.

Cleaning

If your home contains carpet, use a high-quality vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce household dust, pet dander, and chemicals. Experts recommend vacuuming at least two times a week. For homes without carpet, sweeping and mopping effectively captures dirt and pollutants. Dry microfiber mops successfully grab dust and allergens as well but don’t require any chemical cleaners. Putting extra care into your cleaning routine will not only improve the look of your home but also the air quality. Think of all the chemicals, fecal matter, and allergens that cling to your shoes or clothing when you enter a building. Taking your shoes off or using a large matt to wipe your shoes can help reduce pollutants as well.

Reducing Toxicity

One of the worst culprits of compromised indoor air quality is cigarette smoke. The smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals and can increase the risk of asthma, lung cancer, and stroke. Radon poses as another risk for lung cancer, especially in the Midwest where the gas concentrations are high. Radon gas comes from the natural decay of uranium in the ground and leaks through your home’s foundation. Call a professional if your house has not been tested for radon. Toxic particles can come from the products you use to clean, too. Fragrance and household chemicals emit VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). You can find VOCs in higher concentrations indoors, and they come with serious health risks. Reduce these chemicals by switching to natural or mild soaps or cleaners. Essential oils, vinegar, and baking soda can become effective DYI cleaners, too.

Air Support

Adding plants like dracaena, peace lilies, and spider plants improve indoor air quality and attractiveness inside your home. Air purifiers or air cleaners are even more effective at creating fresh and clean air. An air cleaner can capture 98% of airborne particles circulating through your home. We recommend these heating and cooling add-ons for people with asthma, allergies, or chronic illnesses. Depending on the MERV or HEPA rating, filters capture dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, pollutants, viruses and bacteria in the air. Dust mites and mold also thrive in moisture, so investing in an air exchanger or dehumidifier to use in the summer months will help as well. If your house smells musty or already shows signs of mold, you should invest in a dehumidifier.

Would you like better indoor air quality?
Contact WestAIR Heating and Cooling for more information on dehumidifiers and air cleaners.

 

 

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How to Reduce Indoor Humidity

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

How to Reduce Indoor Humidity In the Midwest, we feel the weather to the extremes – below zero and dry in the winter to 90+ degrees and humid in the summer. For those summer months, many of us cool our homes with some sort of air conditioning, but the humidity still sticks around the house. Extra moisture makes the air feel warmer and damages your walls, floors, furniture, and cabinets. You can effectively reduce indoor humidity with three different products, but which one will work best for you?

Portable Dehumidifier

These units plug into any room and are suitable for homes with poor air circulation or no ventilation. Spaces like the basement, kitchen, or bathroom become susceptible to mold. Dishwashers, dryers, and showers add extra heat and moisture to your home. Portable dehumidifiers are the smartest solution for rooms that smell of must or feel damp and stale.

Whole House Dehumidifier

This system works best for old houses that use ductwork for heating and cooling. Older houses are prone to leaks and mold. If you often find condensation on your walls or you’ve had problems with mold before, you should consider a whole house dehumidifier. If you or a family member has asthma or chronic respiratory issues, humidity can aggravate your symptoms. Install a whole house dehumidifier to reduce moisture and improve your health.

Air Exchanger

An air exchanger has two channels of air flow, ventilating your home with fresh, filtered air.  One channel pulls outside air into the home, while the other pushes stale air out. This exchange removes humid air or pollutants. The air exchanger works seamlessly with your heating & cooling equipment to improve air quality. If you own a newer home and want a constant supply of fresh air, consider adding an air exchanger to your HVAC system.

Contact WestAIR Heating and Cooling to learn more about reducing humidity, improving indoor air quality, and installing an air exchanger in your home.

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