Fall Maintenance Checklist

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

It’s that time of year again. Fall is here and winter is just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to check your HVAC system. Your heating and cooling system, like all major electrical appliances, needs regular maintenance to ensure it operates at peak performance, which can save you money and headaches down the road.  Follow our fall maintenance checklist to keep your system running smoothly all season long.

  1. Check and replace your filters – The most important thing you can do at home is inspect the air filter and change it as needed. A dirty or clogged filter makes your system operate less efficiently and can cause unnecessary wear and tear. A good rule of thumb is to replace your filter every month, especially during heating and cooling season.
  2. Clean your registers – Keeping your registers and ducts clear of dust and debris is crucial for your HVAC system to run smoothly. Wipe down your registers often and have your duct system professionally cleaned and inspected at least once every three years.
  3. Keep your AC and furnace clear of debris – Check your outdoor air conditioning unit for leaves, dirt, sticks, or other debris and if necessary, use a hose to clean the top and sides. Make sure the unit is turned off inside before cleaning. This allows for maximum airflow to the fan and increases the efficiency of your system. In addition, remove debris or anything that blocks airflow from your furnace and keep the area clean.
  4. Use ceiling fans and give your HVAC system a break – Although summer is winding down, we’re still enjoying warmer weather that requires air conditioning. Instead of running the AC 24/7, try using ceiling fans to give your system a well-deserved break. On hot fall days, ceiling and portable fans circulate air through the home to help bring the temperature down quicker. On cooler days, try opening your windows and turning on the fans to circulate the cool air into the house to keep it comfortable. Giving your system a break will extend its life and save you money on repairs down the road.
  5. Shut down the AC for winter and inspect it for damage – Running your air conditioner nonstop all summer can take a toll on the unit. When the cold weather hits, turn off your AC and check for damage such as cracks or leaks in the refrigerant lines. Also, check to see that the fan is operational and not damaged from falling debris.
  6. Replace batteries on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – Fall is the perfect time to check all your home’s alarms. Alarms should be tested every six months. Replace the batteries if necessary.
  7. Listen for unusual noises – Unusual noises coming from your HVAC system are often a result of blockages, debris in the vents, or loose bolts on the furnace or heat registers. If you hear an odd noise, try to locate the source, then call an HVAC technician for an inspection.
  8. Turn on the heat now – Don’t wait until the first freeze to test your furnace. Turn on the heater now when temperatures are mild to check for any issues. It’s a good idea to have your furnace inspected and tuned up once a year. Call your heating and cooling technician to schedule an appointment.
  9. Know when to call a pro – Many HVAC manufacturers require annual preventative inspections to maintain the unit’s warranty. Review your system’s warranty to determine whether you need professional service. It’s better to have your furnace inspected in the fall before the technicians get too busy. Your heating and cooling professional will check your system for issues, make adjustments to loose wires or bolts, and address any other problems you may have with your unit.

Following these fall maintenance tips will help prepare your home for winter and uncover any issues you may have that need professional attention. Planning early can prevent expensive repair costs and keep you comfortable all season long.

The experts at WestAIR Heating & Cooling are here to assist with all your HVAC needs. Contact us today to schedule service.  

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Get a Handle on Home Humidity

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Around this time last year, we wrote about surprising ways to reduce humidity in your home. We hope some of those tips proved helpful. With the recent summer rain, heat, and excess moisture, we thought now would be an ideal time to revisit the issue to help you get a handle on home humidity.

Humidity levels

Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air around you. During the summer, humidity levels in your home should measure between 30-50 percent. Humidity levels that are too high or too low can lead to issues with your comfort, health, and home.

Too much humidity prevents the body from regulating its internal temperature, making you and your family feel sticky and uncomfortable. Excess moisture also promotes mold, fungus, and dust mites, which can wreak havoc on allergies and make you sick. Over time, dampness within the home can warp floorboards or furniture and cause wood to rot, resulting in costly repairs.

Conversely, too little humidity causes skin to feel itchy and can dry out the body’s mucous membranes, leading to sore throats, coughing, and nosebleeds. Dryness affects your home, too, when door frames or other features or furnishings made from wood begin to crack, shrink, or bend.

Poor humidity? Here’s how to tell

Establishing a comfortable home environment relies on finding an appropriate balance of air moisture. How do you know if your home humidity levels are out of whack? Look for indicators such as:

  • Condensation. Water beads are visible on the inside of the windows.
  • Constant sweating. You experience persistent perspiration, even after taking a cool shower.
  • Musty smells. You may not be able to see mold and mildew, but you can smell it.
  • Difficulty sleeping. Excess moisture makes the body work harder to cool itself, which can be a challenge when you’re trying to fall or stay asleep.
  • Water spots. Watch for stains on the walls, ceilings, or basement floor, especially after or during a rain shower.
  • Trouble breathing. High humidity can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms.

Regulating home humidity

Summer is sticking around for a bit longer, so make sure you’re enjoying the tail end of the season by staying cool and dry at home. Here are some reminders for keeping home humidity levels low.

  • Use exhaust and ventilation fans in the kitchen and bathroom. Leave those fans on for a short while after you’ve finished cooking or showering to ventilate humid air.
  • Take advantage of your air conditioner. Your A/C unit brings in cooler air while expelling warmer, humid air.
  • Take shorter, cooler showers. The less hot water you use, the less steam and humidity build up in the air.
  • Check your gutters. Keep them free from debris to avoid water buildup and indoor leaks. Also, be sure the downspout is positioned away from your home.
  • Consider investing in a dehumidifier. These portable appliances or whole home systems can help remove moisture from the air.

The experts at WestAIR Heating & Cooling are here to discuss your home humidity concerns and needs. Our technicians can explain how our high-efficiency air conditioners or air quality accessories can help you stay cool and achieve optimum indoor air quality throughout the summer. Contact us today to schedule service.

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Understanding and Controlling Indoor Humidity

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Happy family smiling, laughing, and having fun while playing games together on a tablet.

The hottest time of year is upon us, and we all know how uncomfortable Minnesota’s humidity can be. Our home should be a cool, comfy escape on hot summer days. To help, we put together this guide to understanding and controlling indoor humidity.

Understanding the Basics: Humidity Vs. Relative Humidity

Simply put, humidity measures the amount of water vapor in the air. However, since warm air can retain more moisture than cold air, we look at relative humidity (RH): the amount of water vapor present relative to the total amount the air can hold at the given temperature. RH illustrates how the air actually feels and affects our comfort. The ideal RH for a home is typically between 40 and 60 percent.

Methods for Controlling Indoor Humidity

Essentially, high levels of indoor RH occur when excess moisture enters the home but can’t escape. Use these tips for controlling indoor humidity and keep your home cool and cozy this summer. 

Run Your Air Conditioner

By replacing warm air with cooler air, A/C systems naturally reduce indoor humidity. Again, cool air retains less moisture, so running your air conditioner helps decrease RH in the home.

Don’t Introduce Extra Moisture to the Air

More moisture means more humidity. Certain everyday activities naturally release moisture in the air and should be altered to control RH:

  • Avoid meals that require boiling water, or at least cover the pot whenever possible. Use the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking.
  • Take colder, shorter showers to avoid the steam of hot water, and run your exhaust fan during and for 5 to 10 minutes afterwards.
  • Hang laundry outside to dry so the evaporated moisture doesn’t get trapped in the home.

Provide Proper Ventilation & Exhaust

Remember, higher humidity happens when moisture can’t escape, so make sure that it can:

  • On nice days, open up the windows to let stale, humid air out and fresh air in.
  • Change or clean your HVAC system’s filter monthly for optimal cooling and ventilation.
  • Ensure laundry, kitchen, and bathroom exhaust fans are clear of dust and debris.
  • Schedule an A/C tune-up with your local HVAC specialist to ensure your system runs at peak performance.

Fix Plumbing Leaks

Leaky pipes and fixtures can damage your home and also add moisture to the air, so get them fixed ASAP. Warning signs include water stains on ceilings or walls, wet spots, and irregularly high water bills. You can also wrap exposed pipes with insulators to prevent condensation.

Seal Leaks in Ductwork

Well designed, properly installed ductwork distributes air evenly throughout the home. Leaks create a pressure imbalance and can let humid air in or cold air out. Have your ducts professionally cleaned and inspected to make sure your system circulates air properly.

HVAC Solutions

Humidity can crack or warp wood, promote rot in the home’s structure over time, and increase accumulation of dust and other irritants to asthma and allergy sufferers. Luckily, there are supplemental HVAC solutions to consider if indoor humidity is a big concern:

  • Whole house dehumidifiers work in conjunction with your HVAC system to remove excess moisture.
  • Portable dehumidifiers can be placed in bathrooms, basements, and other specific locations known to house extra moisture.
  • Air exchangers exhaust excess humidity and stale indoor air and deliver filtered outdoor air inside simultaneously.

As we use our homes as a welcome escape from the heat, clean and cool air becomes a must. Use this guide to controlling indoor humidity to keep your family comfy throughout the dog days of summer. And remember to rely on the residential HVAC experts for all your air conditioning and indoor air quality needs.

Contact us today to schedule service and learn more.

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Energy-Saving HVAC Tips for Summer Cooling

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Loving family enjoying the summer sun together while hanging laundry on the clothesline.

So far, June has given Minnesotans multiple occasions to fire up the A/C. With the dog days of summer yet to come, plenty more hot and humid days await. But don’t sweat it – WestAIR is here to help! We put together these energy-saving HVAC tips to help minimize your utility bills this cooling season.

Prevent Issues Later with Professional Service Now

Having an HVAC technician inspect, service, and clean your system now helps ensure peak performance and prevent costly repairs down the road. If you haven’t already, contact your local HVAC professional about the following services.

  • Annual preventative maintenance: Give your system a tune-up before the season to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. During service, the technician can also catch small issues before they become expensive repairs and help you decide if it’s time for an upgrade.
  • Duct cleaning: Ductwork should be cleaned annually as dirt, pollen, hair, dust, and other particles collect inside and reduce indoor air quality over time. They can also clog up the system if left long enough, decreasing its efficiency and increasing energy bills.

Optimize A/C Performance with Tips Around the Home

You don’t have to shut down your HVAC system and suffer through the heat to cut costs. Instead, follow these simple tips and get the most out of your A/C this summer.

  • Keep vents clean and clear. Blocking vents with rugs, furniture, and other items decreases efficiency. Make sure cool air can circulate freely, and vacuum vents regularly to clean away dust, dirt, and other debris.
  • Maintain a clean air filter. Filters prevent debris from getting into your HVAC unit and naturally become dirty or clogged, which adds stress onto the system. To avoid issues, change (or clean, if re-usable) your filter monthly.
  • Seal the home. Don’t let cool air escape or heat enter whenever possible. Caulk any cracks or seams around the home; lock windows shut to ensure a tight seal; draw blinds and curtains to prevent any natural heating from sunlight.
  • Be smart about electronics. Unplug chargers, small appliances, and other electronics when they’re not in use. Also, avoid placing heat-generating devices like lamps and TVs near thermostats – the heat can make it seem like the room is hotter than it really is and trick the thermostat into working harder to cool the home.
  • Grill outside or plan cold meals. Cooking in the oven or on the stove produces heat and can raise the temperature in your kitchen by up to 10 degrees. Take advantage of the summer weather and fire up the grill, or plan some cold meals like salads and sandwiches.
  • Use ceiling fans. Set ceiling fans to spin counterclockwise so they blow air straight down. This will keep cool air low and create a wind chill effect, allowing you to turn the thermostat up a few degrees.
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat. While proper thermostat management can help keep bills low, constantly changing the thermostat can impact your HVAC system’s efficiency and health. Programmable thermostats let you pre-set custom temperature and humidity levels for multiple days instead of monitoring it manually.

Lower Utility Bills with Strategic Water Use

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 18 percent of your home’s energy consumption comes from water heating. Try these water use strategies to help cut utility costs throughout the summer months.

  • Wash clothes with cold or warm water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water heating accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by your washing machine. Avoid washing with hot water whenever possible. Also, line-dry laundry outside to save more energy and reduce indoor humidity.
  • Take cold(er) showers. Hot showers require more energy, and the steam they produce increases humidity. Take colder, shorter showers to lower costs and help maintain indoor air quality.
  • Water the lawn and garden at dawn or dusk. Water usage tends to increase in the summer, especially outdoors due to lawn, garden, and landscape watering. Do these tasks in the early morning or at dusk to prevent the water from quickly evaporating in the summer heat. This will help cut costs and keep your yard and garden healthy.

With July and August still ahead, we know the cooling season is far from over here in Minnesota. Use these energy-saving HVAC tips to minimize utility costs while keeping your home cool and cozy this summer. And for all of your heating and cooling needs, rely on the residential HVAC experts at WestAIR for thorough, high-quality service.

Contact us today to schedule service and learn more.

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Common Summer HVAC Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Summer HVAC Mistakes to Avoid

Summer weather is finally upon us, and we know that 2020 won’t be like every other year. Air conditioners play a vital role here in Minnesota and keeping them running properly will be even more important this time around. To help, we gathered a list of common summer HVAC mistakes to avoid as you keep your home feeling cool and cozy.


Neglecting Regular Maintenance

Regular HVAC maintenance helps prevent inconvenient breakdowns that leave you without cool, comfortable air and with an expensive repair to get it back. Avoid these mistakes to help keep your system running smoothly all season long.

  • Not scheduling preventative maintenance. Don’t wait until you need an HVAC professional to call one. Have a regular preventative maintenance check early on to promote optimal performance throughout the summer.
  • Running a system with dirty ducts. Dirt, dust, pet hair, and other harmful particles settle into your ductwork over time and get blown into the air you and your family breathe. Left long enough, they can also clog the system, forcing it to work harder and hiking up your utility bills as a result. Annual duct cleaning is vital to the health and efficiency of your HVAC system, as well as indoor air quality.
  • Not keeping a clean filter. Just like ductwork, dirty or clogged air filters cause added stress on your HVAC system and decreased air quality. Plan to change your air filter (or clean if re-usable) monthly.


Having an Oversized System

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to HVAC. Proper air conditioning will circulate cool air and remove humidity simultaneously and evenly – if the unit is too big, it will cool the home quickly without removing enough moisture from the air. As a result, you won’t feel comfortably cool and may turn the thermostat even lower, working the system harder and increasing energy use.

If your A/C isn’t cooling the home how you feel it should, consult your local HVAC experts about possibly upgrading to a right-sized system.


Closing Unused Air Vents

Some homeowners worry about cooling rooms that aren’t used on a daily basis. However, as mentioned above, properly sized systems are designed to evenly distribute cool air to the entire home. While it may seem logical to close unused vents to focus on cooling high-traffic areas, closing unused air vents decreases system efficiency and increases its workload.


Improper Thermostat Management

Altering the thermostat setting can be a touchy subject in the home, and doing so can impact the efficiency and health of your system. Remember to avoid these common mistakes.

  • Don’t crank the thermostat. You may be tempted to turn the temp extra-low to cool the home quickly, but this method actually decreases efficiency and adds stress onto the system. Be patient. Set the temperature to a comfortable level and let it run at its optimal rate.
  • Don’t pay to keep an empty house cool. No need to use extra energy to keep the house comfy if no one’s home. Turn the thermostat up when you’re gone for work or out of town, and turn it back down when you return.
  • But don’t turn the system off. Turning the system completely off forces it to work harder to cool the home when it’s fired back up. Unless you’re leaving for an extended trip, keep the A/C running at a higher temperature.


Consider Installing a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats let you customize and set temperature and humidity settings for multiple days, eliminating the need to manually monitor them throughout the day. Contact us to learn more about optimizing your summertime cooling performance and schedule with a new smart thermostat.


Crowding/Obstructing the Outdoor Unit

Outdoor units need to easily draw in air to operate efficiently. Clear any clutter and obstructions within two to three feet of the unit and be sure to keep it clean of grass clippings, dirt, and other debris throughout the summer.


Not Properly Sealing the Home

It’s a pretty simple concept: Keep cool air from escaping and heat from entering the home. Be mindful of these simple mistakes that impact your home’s cooling comfort and costs.

  • Neglecting leaks and drafts. Inspect windows, doors, and exterior walls and seal or caulk any small cracks or gaps that could let cool air out and warm air in.
  • Leaving windows unlocked and uncovered. Even shut windows can have small leaks, so lock them to ensure a tight seal. During the day, use curtains and shades to block direct rays of sunlight from heating your home.


Not Managing Indoor Humidity

Humidity plays a crucial role when it comes to home comfort and air quality. While HVAC systems pull moisture from the air, there are many things you can do to help reduce humidity in your home, such as taking cold(er) showers, using exhaust fans, and installing a dehumidifier to work in conjunction with your air conditioner.

Minnesota summers provide amazing opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature’s beauty, but we all know the importance of having a cool, comfortable home to relax in. Keep these common summer HVAC mistakes in mind to help avoid any issues with your system this cooling season.

As your residential HVAC experts, WestAIR is proud to reliably serve all your heating and cooling needs. Contact us today to schedule service and learn more.

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Tips for Controlling Spring Allergies at Home

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Family cleaning together to help control spring allergies at home.

Seeing warmer weather and longer days is bittersweet for allergy sufferers. Spring may be in the air, but so are pesky allergens. As we spend more time in our homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor air quality becomes more important than ever. Use these helpful tips for controlling spring allergies at home to stay healthy and comfortable.

Change Shoes and Clothing After Being Outdoors

Controlling allergies begins with limiting exposure to allergens. Limit your time outdoors whenever possible. If you do venture out, don’t wear the same clothing and shoes around your home. Dirt, dust, pollen, and other irritants can cling to you and your wardrobe. Avoid tracking them around by changing as soon as you return home.

Dust, Vacuum, and Mop Regularly

Dust and allergens will settle on the surfaces of your home. Try to clean them at least weekly, and more often if you are leaving windows and doors open.

Have Your Ductwork Cleaned

Air ducts transport fresh air between your home and HVAC system, and over time will collect dust, pollen, and other airborne particles that travel through them. Having them cleaned annually is vital to indoor air quality. Schedule a professional duct cleaning service to help ensure you’re ready for the season.

Maintain a Clean Air Filter

The air filter blocks airborne irritants from getting into your system. However, it becomes dirty and less effective over time. If left long enough, the filter can also become clogged and make your system work harder, causing higher bills and faster wear and tear. Change (or clean it if re-usable) your air filter monthly to keep the system running properly.

Install an Air Cleaner

The name says it all. An air cleaner uses a filter to trap up to 97 percent of airborne bacteria, mold, dander, and other pollen-sized irritants. It can also eliminate viruses, kill germs, and neutralize odors and fumes.

Invest in Ultraviolet (UV) Light Air Purification

Breaking through an organism’s cell wall to destroy its DNA, UV light rays prevent that organism from reproducing and causing illness. UV technology has been around for over 100 years, and many homeowners today utilize it as a highly effective way to kill harmful bacteria, mold, and viruses in the home.

These systems conveniently work in conjunction with your current HVAC system. WestAIR is an authorized dealer of BreatheCLEAN UV air purification systems. Contact us to learn more or to schedule your UV light system installation.

Consider an Air Exchanger

Letting fresh air into the home can be beneficial, but it brings allergens along with it. An air exchanger solves this by exhausting stale indoor air and excess humidity while also delivering a continuous flow of filtered outdoor air inside. Installing a programmable thermostat will help you maintain indoor comfort without constantly managing temperature. And again, remember to keep your filter clean!

Controlling spring allergies at home comes down to limiting exposure to allergens. It sounds simple, but don’t be fooled into thinking the home is a completely irritant-free safe space. While we may be spending less time outdoors than usual this spring, use these tips to maintain indoor air quality and keep allergy symptoms at bay.

WestAIR’s HVAC experts are here for all your heating and cooling needs. As we continue helping our customers prepare their homes for the spring and summer during this time, our team is taking extra precautions to protect the health and safety of themselves and everyone they service. We prioritize your comfort and satisfaction in all that we do. Contact us today to schedule service and learn more.

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HVAC Tips for Spring Cleaning

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Happy woman dancing during spring cleaning.

We can finally see that spring is on its way! With the weather warming up, it’s time to start preparing the home for the cooling season. Will yours be ready? To help out, we put together a list of HVAC tips for spring cleaning. 

Change Air Filter (or Clean if Re-Usable) 

A dirty or clogged air filter makes your system work harder, leading to higher bills and increased wear and tear. It also negatively affects indoor air quality. Change your air filter (or clean it if re-usable), and plan to do so monthly to keep the system working properly. 

Clean Floor Registers and Return Air Vents 

If dust gets into your HVAC system, it can negatively impact both energy efficiency and your home’s air quality. Use a vacuum to clean your floor registers and return air vents. You can get a deeper clean by removing the vent, brushing the individual grill spaces with a rag and butter knife, and then rinsing with warm soapy water. 

Dust and Mop Around the Home 

Though you should do these chores regularly throughout the year, dusting and mopping are especially important during spring. With windows and doors being left open more often, airborne particles like dust, dirt, and allergens accumulate on your surfaces and eventually make their way into your HVAC system.  

Have Your Ductwork Cleaned 

Air ducts supply your HVAC system with fresh air, but they can quickly become dirty from all the dust, pollen, and other harmful particles floating in the air. Keeping them clean helps prevent these harmful pollutants from accumulating in your ductwork and impacting the health of your HVAC system and air quality. Spring cleaning is the perfect time for a professional duct cleaning service, which you should do annually. 

Clean Bathroom Exhaust Fan(s) 

Clean and properly functioning, bathroom exhaust fans help with odor and moisture control, which helps prevent mold and mildew. Be sure the power is off, wash it with soapy water, and clean dirt and debris off the fan blades with a toothbrush. 

Clean and Clear Debris from Outdoor A/C Unit 

If your outdoor unit doesn’t get enough air or has dirt-covered coils, it could overheat. Turn off the power and clear away plants, weeds, leaves, branches, etc., and then rinse the condenser coils with a garden hose. 

Check/Change Batteries in Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors 

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a crucial line of defense against two common household dangers. Check the batteries and replace them if necessary. You should also dust or vacuum them to optimize performance. 

Schedule Preventative Maintenance 

Don’t get caught with a failing A/C or expensive repair bill down the road. Schedule a preventative maintenance service with your local HVAC contractor to ensure your system is running smoothly and ready for the cooling season. 

During Minnesota winters, at times it feels like spring will never come. But when the days get longer and the temps rise, we know it’s time to start getting ready. Use these HVAC tips for spring cleaning to help make sure your home is ready for a safe, comfortable, and happy cooling season. 

The HVAC professionals at WestAIR offer experience and expertise to cover all your heating and cooling needs. Contact us today to schedule service and learn more.

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Importance of Indoor Air Quality

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

When we think about pollutants, many of us jump to an image of factories pumping smoke and toxins into the air. But what about on a smaller, more personal scale? Most of us spend more time in our own home than anywhere else, yet fail to consider the potential harm we face there. Let’s look at the importance of indoor air quality for family health.

Why Indoor Air Quality Matters

According to the EPA, the concentrations of pollutants in indoors are often two to three times what they typically are outdoors. Additionally, the EPA says that on average, Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, with people who are more susceptible to pollution’s adverse effects (including children, older adults, and those with cardiovascular or respiratory disease) spending even more.

Causes/Sources

When it comes to indoor pollutants, most people are aware of secondhand smoke, radon, and carbon monoxide. Other threats to indoor air quality include:

  • Combustion sources like wood, coal, and gas heating and cooking appliances
  • Cleaning supplies releasing different chemicals into the air
  • Building materials like insulation and pressed wood
  • HVAC systems, especially if improperly maintained
  • Pet hair, dander, and other allergens
  • Inadequate ventilation
  • Dust mites and pests
  • Mold and bacteria

Outdoor air pollutants can also make their way inside the home through open doors and windows, ventilation systems, and cracks and seams. Chimney smoke can reenter and pollute the air, and volatile chemicals can sometimes enter via the water supply when cooking or showering. By simply entering the home, people inadvertently bring the soil and dust particles attached to their clothing along with them, as well as any pollutants attached to those particles.

Effects

The effects of indoor air pollutants vary both by person and based on length of exposure. Some immediate, short-term effects include:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue
  • Upper respiratory congestion
  • Triggered or worsening asthma symptoms, including asthma attacks

Long-term and more severe health effects include:

  • Respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Nose bleeds
  • Difficult or painful breathing

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare professional or dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency. Consult your local HVAC professional about improving your home’s air quality.

Tips

Whether we’re escaping hot and humid summer days or the bitter cold of winter, Minnesota residents spend plenty of time indoors year-round. Maintaining clean indoor air is crucial, and here are a few basic tips to get you started:

  • Let in fresh air: Open windows and doors when possible and consider purchasing an air exchanger to help replace stale indoor air with during the winter.
  • Clean regularly: Vacuum carpets and rugs one to two times each week and dust hard surfaces weekly.
  • Wash bedding weekly and consider using dust mite-proof covers on pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
  • Have your ductwork cleaned and change your filter (or clean if re-usable) monthly.
  • Invest in an air cleaner to efficiently trap and remove airborne pollutants.
  • Declutter your living space to avoid trapping and holding dust.

WestAIR Heating & Cooling understands the importance of indoor air quality, and we want to help keep your family safe and healthy. We offer professional duct cleaning as well as sale and service of air exchangers, air cleaners, whole house humidifiers, and replacement filters.Contact us to learn more and schedule service today.

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Ready to Replace: The Benefits of a Furnace Upgrade

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Family enjoying time inside together on a cold winter day.

How old is your furnace? According to Consumer Reports, a furnace’s average life expectancy is 15 – 20 years (depending on the fuel type). Age is just one indicator that it’s time to replace your heating system, and doing so can do more than just ensure a cozy home all winter. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a furnace upgrade.

Increased Energy Efficiency

Modern furnaces offer significantly more efficiency than older ones, which ultimately means lower utility bills. This is measured by the system’s annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) – the amount of the system’s annual energy consumption that actually produces heat. Older systems score between 56 percent and 70 percent AFUE, meaning only 56 to 70 percent of the energy consumed becomes heat for the home. Modern high-efficiency heating systems offer 90 percent to 98.5 percent AFUE, helping you use less and save more.

Compatible with Programmable Thermostat – More Savings

Programmable thermostats can save you up to 33 percent on annual heating and cooling costs. You can schedule temperatures ahead of time, so the system automatically turns down when you’re away to save energy and back up when you’re at home for comfort. Properly used along with your new energy-efficient furnace, a programmable thermostat can help you maximize your savings.

Optimal Comfort Throughout the Home

Advanced technology in today’s furnaces helps provide stable, even temperatures throughout the home, eliminating cold spots and ensuring comfort.

Some modern features and benefits:

  • Zoning systems let you regulate the temperatures in each individual room, making sure the heat is utilized how you want.
  • Variable-speed operation means the blower motor has multiple speed settings. It will work at high capacity during periods of extreme cold to circulate more warm air throughout the house, and low capacity on more mild days to use less energy. Older systems have fixed-speed motors that operate at full capacity whenever they run.
  • Two-stage furnaces will operate in the first stage (about 65 percent of full capacity) until outside temperatures drop low enough, in which case it will kick into stage two and produce more heat to fulfill the additional requirements. As a result, these systems enhance efficiency and provide a steady flow of warm air for comfort on those extra-cold days.

Improved Safety

Due to normal wear and tear over time, an older furnace can develop a crack in its heat exchanger and leak poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) into the home. Common signs of a CO leak include:

  • Weak, flickering, and/or yellow burner flame
  • Soot streaks near furnace
  • Moisture on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces
  • Rusting on flue pipes/other pipe connections or appliance jacks
  • Small water leak at base of chimney, vent, or flue pipe

Signs of human exposure can be mistaken for common illnesses:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Burning feeling in nose/eyes

If you notice any of these signs of CO poisoning, contact your local HVAC specialist immediately. Installing a new furnace will help keep your home feeling cozy through the winter without putting your family in danger.

Better Indoor Air Quality

Your HVAC system is also responsible for the air quality of your home, and keeping a clean air filter is key. However, even with a clean filter, an older furnace can cause excessive dust, allergens, and dry, stale air in your home.

Enhanced Reliability

Frequent issues and expensive repairs to your furnace add up quickly, and they also leave your home with insufficient or no heat until fixed. While you should have your system serviced annually, having to call for a repair shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. A new furnace gives you the peace of mind that your family will be comfy all winter long.

While important, keeping your home warm is only one of the benefits of a furnace upgrade. We rely on our home’s heating system a lot here in Minnesota, so it’s important to make sure yours is up to the task. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Have your system inspected today and see if this is the year you replace.

WestAIR installs high-efficiency Rheem furnaces because they use advanced, state-of-the-art technology to offer the best in energy-efficient home heating. From HVAC service to system replacements, our experts are here for all your heating and cooling needs.Contact us for more information.

This entry was posted in Furnace,Heating,Indoor Air Quality,Tips,Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Winter Energy-Saving Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

It’s the season of heavy snow, biting wind, and frosty windows. In the freezing temperatures, you may notice your energy bills spike as you try to heat your home. WestAIR is here to help. Follow our winter energy-saving tips to keep cozy:

  1. Insulate your windows with heavy curtains. Keep the curtains closed at night and open in the day for free solar heating.
  2. If the warmth in your home sneaks away the moment the furnace cycles off, you may be losing heat through drafty windows. Use caulk, weather stripping, or draft stoppers to seal leaks around doors and windows.
  3. Seal air leaks in plumbing penetrations, gaps around the chimney, recessed lights, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Insulate the attic or crawl space and other areas of the home according to recommendations for your region.
  4. Reverse ceiling fans so they run clockwise. Hot air rises, so the fans will push the warm air back down to you. Running them in the winter can save up to ten percent in energy costs.
  5. Move furniture and other items away from vents so the heat can travel from the ductwork to your rooms.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, keep the damper closed when it’s not in use so the warm air doesn’t escape out the chimney.
  7. Change filters. Dirty, clogged filters make your heating system work harder, which puts stress on your equipment and increases energy bills.
  8. Avoid using exhaust fans, which will suck out the warm air.
  9. Recycle oven heat. When you finish baking something and turn the oven off, leave the door open to warm the kitchen.
  10. Install a whole house humidifier to combat the dry air. Relative humidity makes your home feel warmer at lower temperatures, so you can turn the thermostat down and still feel comfortable.
  11. Turn the thermostat down when you sleep and when you leave, but no more than five degrees. Your furnace may spend more energy starting up again than it does keeping the home within a steady temperature range.
  12. Invest in a programmable thermostat, so it can adjust the temperatures for you. According to Minnesota Energy Resources, you could save up to $180 dollars a year just by upgrading this simple accessory.
  13. Don’t heat unnecessary spaces. Learn how you can control where the heat goes in your home with automatic zoning.
  14. Schedule service for your heating system.

WestAIR is committed to keeping your home warm this winter. We understand the stress that Minnesota winters place on your heating system and pocketbook. Check out our Heating 101 guide for more seasonal HVAC tips.

Contact us for more information.

This entry was posted in Energy Savings,Heating,Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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