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.

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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.

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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.

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Air Duct Cleaning & Maintenance

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Air Duct Cleaning & Maintenance by WestAir Heating & Cooling

Clean air ducts help keep dirt, dust mites, and mold out of the air of your home. Turning on a contaminated or clogged heating and cooling system can cycle these potentially harmful particles into the air you breathe and decrease indoor air quality. How do you know if you need an air duct cleaning service?

Check with your local HVAC technician to find any visible mold or excessive dust and debris inside your ducts, or if there has been a recent infestation of rodents or insects.

Keep your ducts clean by practicing proper home habits.

• Change your furnace and air conditioner filters regularly.
• Check to make sure you use the right air filters that fit your equipment.
• Make sure your HVAC equipment is efficient and regularly maintained.
• Dust and vacuum your home regularly. Vacuuming can increase the amount of dust in the air, so it’s worth upgrading to a high efficiency (HEPA) vacuum cleaner.
• Seal off supply and return registers during home renovation or construction.
• Maintain your humidifier to prevent mold inside the home.
• Repair leaks and water damage promptly.
• Make sure ducts are sealed properly and insulated in attics and crawl spaces.
• Invest in an Aprilaire Air Cleaner to reduce the amount of dust circulating around your home. Air cleaners trap 98 percent of visible dust and irritating particles, and 97 percent of airborne pollen. Attached to your furnace, the filters remove matter through the blower fan and return clean air back into the rooms of your home.

Air duct cleaning is not an annual service, but might be needed after some time, especially if you have pets, smoke, sensitive allergies, respiratory needs, or live in a humid environment.

At WestAir Heating & Cooling, we use a specialized Rotobrush cleaning system to clean air duct systems. This “source removal” cleaning method utilizes powerful vacuums and brushes to dislodge any debris that stick to the surface.

If you think you might need your ducts cleaned or worry about your indoor air quality, contact us for more information.

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Extend the Life of your HVAC Equipment

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Extend the Life of your Heating & Cooling Equipment

Having a working furnace and air conditioner is crucial during the winter and steamy summer days. Don’t run it and forget about it, as wear and tear is inevitable. You can save on costly replacements or repairs through proper maintenance. Extend the life of your HVAC equipment by following these steps.

Heating & Cooling Tips

1. Follow manufacturer instructions.

2. Have your systems checked every year by a qualified service technician. It’s best to schedule maintenance in the spring and fall. Technicians are busy in the hot and cold months, and you don’t want to wait until there’s something wrong.

3. Check your filters. Replace your filters every 30 to 60 days. If you have a permanent filter, clean it with mild detergent every 30 to 60 days. This is the most important step to increase the life of your equipment. Dirty filters make heating and cooling units work harder, which will shorten the life with use.

4. Keep your doors and windows closed. Your air conditioner and heater will work harder when there is more air to circulate. Make each space with ventilation smaller by closing your doors. This is the also the case for houses with boilers or window air conditioners. Rather than labor to regulate air temperature in the whole house, your a/c only needs to cool the individual room. With a boiler system, it’s efficient to close off rooms without a radiator.

5. Caulk and weather-strip air gaps on windows. This step is good for your wallet and your HVAC equipment. Old houses are especially drafty, so locate the air leaks by finding damaged glazing or old caulking. Another trick is to turn off all appliances and light an incense stick in each room. Turn on your exhaust vent if you have one. Then hold your incense stick close to windows, doors, and walls for a noticeable change in the smoke. If you have drafty doors, invest in some door draft blockers.

6. Use your thermostat. It’s a myth that you should keep your thermostat at a steady temperature. Most of the time, your furnace will be working harder to maintain the heat at a steady rate. Instead, program your thermostat for a comfortable temperature while you are home and ten degrees less while you are away. However, fidgeting with the thermostat will be less efficient, even if it seems harmless to put it up or down a degree or two. Keep it on a consistent schedule.

Energy Efficiency

Winter

1. Open window shades when windows are facing the sun. Let the sun warm your house naturally, putting less work on your furnace. The vitamin D is good for you this time of year!

2. Take advantage of using your oven. Slow cook your chicken and oven roast your veggies. The extra warmth will give your furnace a break. Your oven will be working two jobs at once without the added cost.

Summer

1. Close window shades facing the sun. Opposite of wintertime, you want to block the sun from adding extra heat to your house. Make sure to put your plants outside so they don’t suffer from the lack of sun!

2. Be smart with your other appliances. When you are doing laundry, hang up your clothes on a line to save energy or strain on your a/c. Why work an appliance that uses heat when it’s already hot outdoors? Washing clothing shouldn’t be an issue, though, if you stick to cold water. If it’s humid out, dry your clothes during the coolest part of the day: around dawn. Same goes for dishwashers.

3. Use your exhaust fans when cooking. Whether you plan on using the oven or stovetop for dinner, turn on the exhaust fan to let out the excess moisture and heat. Or maybe fix a cold sandwich or salad. In return, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard! Same goes for your bathroom, but not everyone likes cold showers!

Annual Service Maintenance

Spring is around the corner, so it’s time to schedule your maintenance visit with WestAir Heating & Cooling.
Our technician’s maintenance list will take care of most things you cannot do yourself to ensure your equipment is running smoothly for summer and winter:

Annual Service Maintenance list:

• Clean furnace and check operation/filter
• Clean air conditioner and check operation
• Clean outdoor condenser and check refrigerant level
• Clean air exchanger filters and core
• Check radiant in-floor pressures and go over system
• Check humidifier filter and drain line
• Check unit heater operation
• Clean fireplace and check operation

Contact us for more information on heating, cooling, or our service maintenance!

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Why You Should Change Your Furnace Filter Often

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Why You Should Change Your Furnace Filter

Changing your furnace filter seems to be an easily forgotten task. HVAC companies try their hardest to remind you to do these things, but do you know why you should change it more often than you think?

Maintenance

Getting an oil change for your car is as important as changing the furnace filter for your house. It simply extends the life of your equipment. A dirty filter means that less air is circulating, which then means that your furnace is working harder to keep your house warm. Over time, having a furnace go into overdrive for too long can overheat the system or break down the entire unit. This is not something you do want to deal with in subzero temperatures.

A little dirt can do a lot of damage. If your furnace filter is dirty, not only will it make your HVAC unit work harder, but it will also make your heating bills go up over time. All the extra effort that this heater is putting out digs a deeper hole into your wallet. While a new furnace filter might cost money, ignoring it will cost more in your gas bill, except you’re doing more damage than good by trying to be frugal.

Air Filter Quality

Skip the fancy furnace filters. A furnace filter is designed to protect your furnace, not improve indoor air quality. Some people swear by these special filters, but you’ll most likely have to run your furnace fan year-round to get the benefit of a high-efficiency filter. Extra work and extra care (replacing them often) will cost you more in the end.

There is a happy balance that you could achieve between cost and efficiency. For homeowners, we recommend purchasing a MERV 7 or 8 pleated filter, which traps 80 to 95 percent of air particles. If you are looking to get rid of pollutants and breathe cleaner air, consider getting an air cleaner instead.

When to call your HVAC technician

– Unit fails to turn back on
– Noisy or slow fan
– Bent fins
– Coils are extra dusty

Remember to change your furnace filter every month when fan is in use for heating and cooling seasons.
Got more furnace questions? Call us at (763) 498-8071.

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Six Tips to Reduce Your Heating Bill

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Lower Your Heating Bill

Winter has arrived in full force, but that doesn’t mean you have to blast money from your wallet as you turn up the heat. WestAIR Heating and Cooling offers six easy ways to reduce your heating bill this winter and for years to come.

1. Control your Thermostat

Using a thermostat is an easy way to control your home temperature and maximize your savings. While you are away, set it 10 degrees cooler than your regular setting. So, if you feel comfortable at 69 degrees, you would program it to be 59 degrees while you’re at work or on vacation. Some newer thermostats have capabilities to be controlled by a phone app or website!

2. Insulate Windows and Walls

You can lose half of your heat if your home is not well insulated! Is your attic or basement insulated? If not, fill all the gaps with fiberglass insulation. If your windows are drafty, fill in the leaky spaces with caulk.

3. Look at those Ducts

Heat can leak right through your air ducts too. You can patch them with aluminum foil tape (not duct tape) and mastic sealant. First, clean the surface near any leak you find in your air ducts. The aluminum foil tape works best on flat surfaces. Mastic is for curved surfaces that would be difficult to tape. Use both for leaks bigger than a quarter-inch for extra protection!

4. Keep Up on Filters

Did you know that you should change your furnace filter each month? Not only will it let warm air flow freely, but it will reduce the need for costly repairs. Inexpensive fiber filters work fine, but standard pleated filters are better for airborne dust.

5. Take Care of your Furnace

Many people forget this step, but tune-ups are necessary for furnaces just like an oil change is for your car. Nobody wants to wake up shivering in the middle of the night because the furnace isn’t working properly. Although we do offer same-day and emergency service in case this happens, avoid breakdowns with a scheduled maintenance check. Take advantage of our current promotion and save $10 on any repair or service call.

6. Invest!

Sometimes you must kick your old furnace to the curb. If your repair costs more than 50 percent of the cost of a new furnace, or your monthly heating bills have significantly increased, you should most likely consider a replacement. Upfront costs may seem daunting, but today’s furnaces are more energy efficient and will save money in the long run. If you think it’s time to replace that old furnace of yours, we stand by Rheem heaters for quality. Rheem is a leading provider of top-quality, innovative heating products that offer the latest technology, lasting performance, great warranties, and excellent service and support. As a proud Rheem Pro Partner, our highly trained, licensed technicians can recommend a Rheem furnace or other heating product to best meet your needs.

Contact us to learn more about a furnace tune-up or questions!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

A big part of Thanksgiving is practicing gratitude. At WestAIR, we are thankful for our HVAC technicians who help keep our homes warm in the wintertime!

Thanksgiving

 

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