Surprising Ways to Reduce Humidity in Your Home

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

If you’ve been noticing foggy windows, musty odors, or clammy air throughout your home, chances are, your humidity levels are high. Humidity can both rob you of comfort and threaten your health. We don’t want you to suffer through the stifling heat, so we’ve outlined some surprising ways to reduce humidity in your home.

But first, a word about relative humidity (RH): RH measures water vapor relative to the temperature of the air. RH illustrates the amount of water in the air in relation to the total amount of humidity that could be held at the current temperature. Weather forecasts report relative humidity because it affects how we feel the temperature. Humid air feels warmer; dry air feels cooler. The ideal indoor relative humidity for a home is between 40 and 60 percent. If your RH is lower or higher, follow these tips:

Go old school with laundry

Dry your clothing outside. If you hang wet clothing inside to dry, all the moisture will evaporate into the air.

Accessorize with plants

Invest in some household tropical plants like Boston ferns, English ivies, Peace lilies, Reed Palms, or Tillandsias. These plants absorb moisture from the air instead of through the roots.

Take cold(er) showers

Hot showers create steam. Plan to bathe after exercising or spending time outside in the heat. You’ll be less tempted to jump into a steaming shower, and the cool water will feel refreshing. If nothing else, run the exhaust fan during and after showering.

Eat more salads

Hot weather provides the perfect opportunity to cook outside on the grill or eat cold meals like salads and sandwiches. Avoid boiling water; instead, save the heavy pasta for cooler weather. Your body will thank you in more ways than one.

Check the drainage route

In high humidity, your air conditioner or dehumidifier will produce a lot of condensation that has to go somewhere. Regularly empty the drip pan and be sure the drain lines are working properly so the water doesn’t evaporate back into the air.

Replace your flooring

Carpet is known to retain moisture. If you’ve tried all the above methods to decrease humidity, but still have a problem with moisture, consider replacing the carpet with hardwood flooring.

Benefits of proper humidity

With lower humidity levels, you could raise the thermostat setting a few degrees and still be comfortable. High humidity may cause headaches and asthma symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, or a chronic cough. Proper humidity levels are easier on your respiratory tract and can:

  • Reduce your cooling costs.
  • Minimize wear on your HVAC system.
  • Prevent dust mites, mold, bacteria, and mildew.
  • Eliminate foul odors.
  • Help you sleep better.

If you are still having trouble, consult with the professionals at WestAIR Heating & Cooling. We offer high-efficiency air conditioners to keep you cool in the muggy season and countless air quality accessories to reduce humidity. Schedule service to have a technician visit your home and recommend the right solutions for your family’s total indoor air comfort.

Contact us for more information.

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Indoor Air Quality Solutions

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Indoor air quality solutions

Ever looked at a ray of light streaming through your windows and noticed floating dust particles? The sunlight can reveal a lot about a room’s air quality. While it may be tempting to open up the windows and doors for a quick fix, we’re in the thick of ragweed season, so it probably won’t do you any favors. The EPA recommends upgrading your HVAC filter or using an air cleaner to reduce harmful airborne particles. Read our blog to learn why and discover some more indoor air quality solutions.

New filters

Your HVAC filter traps microorganisms, animal fur, hair, lint, dander, mold, pollen, dirt, and more so they don’t accumulate in your system or irritate your lungs. Check your filter once a month to see if it needs replacing. A clogged air filter can cause your HVAC equipment to overheat, short cycle, or even break down. At the very least, changing a dirty filter could lower your energy bills because your system won’t have to work twice as hard just to obtain adequate airflow.

Air cleaner

An air cleaner uses a filter to trap particles like bacteria, mold, ragweed, pet dander, and dust mites. It can even eliminate viruses, kill germs, neutralize fumes, and remove odors. Those with allergies, asthma, or sensitivity to chemicals can benefit from an air cleaner, which can remove up to 97 percent of pollen-sized particles.

Air exchanger

Every time you cook, shower, clean, and breathe, you release pollutants into the air. Airtight buildings are more energy efficient, but they need to somehow circulate air to maintain a healthy environment. Without adequate ventilation, old air will sit in enclosed spaces and accumulate dust, bacteria, mold, and other harmful particles.

An air exchanger provides refreshed, filtered air to reduce these allergens. Air exchangers use two fans, one to take stale air out, and the other to pull in fresh air, run it through a filter, and disperse it through the ductwork.

Dehumidifier

Humidity makes a room seem hotter than it is and increases the likelihood of mold and mildew growth. Drier air feels cooler. A dehumidifier can increase your comfort and allow you to raise the temperature a few degrees to save on cooling expenses. You can use a portable unit or install a whole house dehumidifier that works in conjunction with your HVAC system.

Dehumidifiers pull moist air over a cooling coil that condenses the moisture vapor into droplets. Moisture along the coils drips into a collection pan or directly down a drain.

Duct cleaning

In most HVAC systems, all the conditioned air passes through ductwork to supply vents in each room, and back through return registers to be conditioned again. Particles floating in the air could become trapped in the many channels and crevices behind your walls. If the ductwork is dirty, your indoor air will be, too, no matter what air cleaning accessories you install. During air duct cleaning, your technician will use powerful vacuums and brushes to dislodge debris and allow proper airflow.

Bonus tip

Plants clean the air of carbon dioxide and can remove cancer-causing formaldehyde, benzene, and other toxins. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to purify your indoor air, bring in some potted vegetation. They can improve your physical health as well as your mental well-being by reducing stress, building memory retention, and increasing concentration, which in turn boosts productivity.

At WestAIR, we care about you and your family’s health and comfort. We offer air quality solutions to rid your home or business of harmful pollutants and provide fresh oxygen, day in, and day out.

Contact us to learn more.

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HVAC Tips for Summer Trips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

hvac tips for summer trips

What exciting summer trips do you have planned? Before you pack up those bags and lock the door, take time to make sure your air conditioning will fare well while you are gone. Proper preparation will save you money on utility bills and keep your home’s air quality safe. So before you leave town, check out these HVAC tips for summer trips:

Don’t turn your HVAC system off

Many homeowners think they need to turn their cooling off to save money while they’re away in the summer. But you may end up spending more than you saved trying to cool your home back down when you return. An HVAC system doesn’t just regulate temperature, it also circulates air, controls humidity, and keeps indoor pollutants at bay. If you turn it off in the summer, humidity levels may rise, and you could come home to mold issues.

Program your thermostat

Before you leave, set the thermostat four degrees higher than your normal comfortable temperature, but keep it below 85 degrees. Check out the smart thermostats we offer with easy, seven-day programming and humidity control so you can rest assured your home is in good hands.

Prepare for rain

Install a full-house surge protector to save your system from power outages in case of a large summer storm or downed power lines. A surge protector will absorb the electrical overload and channel it into the ground so the power doesn’t damage your HVAC units.

Seal your home

Close all doors, windows, blinds, curtains, and storm shutters. Your home will stay cooler if you block the sun out, and conditioned air will remain inside if your home is sealed from the elements. Make sure supply and return registers are open so air circulates freely throughout the home.

Unplug

Unplugging electronics before you leave for vacation will help your system cool more efficiently. Some appliances still generate heat even if they aren’t being used. If you plan to be away for a significant amount of time, empty and unplug the refrigerator and turn down the water heater.

Give your equipment some attention

Even if you’ve just recently serviced your equipment, it’s important to check it before you leave it unattended. Replace the air filter if it’s dirty and clear the outdoor units of anything that would obstruct airflow. Pull away weeds, trim shrubbery, remove branches or twigs resting on the unit, and unclog the condensate drain if it is blocked.

Call WestAIR

Finally, schedule service so you don’t have to worry when you are states away enjoying vacation with your family. Our technicians will recharge the refrigerant if it’s low, clean the evaporator coils, and address any issues your air conditioning unit may have.

WestAIR Heating & Cooling provides cooling solutions to fit your home and budget. We offer energy-efficient A/C units, smart thermostats, filters, air cleaners, and more. Contact us today.

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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.

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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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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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The Benefits of a Whole House Dehumidifier

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Whole House Dehumidifier

We’ve all heard the saying: “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!” And summer in Minnesota proves it with hot, sticky, oppressive days. When the air inside your home feels like the air outside, it may be time to consider a whole house dehumidifier from WestAIR Heating & Cooling.

SIGNS OF EXCESS HUMIDITY

When there’s too much humidity in your home, not only can you feel it, you can see it and smell it as well. You may need a whole house dehumidifier if:

  • Condensation appears on the inside of windows, on mirrors, or on cold drinks.
  • Your home has become an insect breeding ground.
  • Mold and mildew are present.
  • Wood furniture, wood floors, and trimwork warp or rot.
  • Skin feels sticky in the summer (or clammy in the winter).
  • Rooms smell musty.
  • You experience excessive sweating at normal indoor temperatures.

Excess humidity also provides an environment where dust mites thrive. These and other contaminants, like mold and mildew, can aggravate health problems, including asthma and allergies.

A whole house dehumidifier, working in connection with your heating and cooling system, removes the right amount of humidity from your home to alleviate these issues. At the same time, it prevents the air from becoming too dry, which can also be problematic. WestAIR installs the industry’s top whole house dehumidifiers from Aprilaire.

SPORTABLE DEHUMIDIFIER RECALL

Homeowners have used portable dehumidifiers for decades, most often in basements or cellars, which tend to be more humid. While a portable dehumidifier may seem to temporarily improve a sticky situation, a portable unit is unable to remove humidity throughout the home. In addition, portable humidifiers can pose a safety risk.

At the end of 2016, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 5.6 million portable dehumidifiers. The recall included more than 60 brands of dehumidifiers sold at various retail outlets, including Menards, Lowe’s, and Home Depot, due to a potential fire hazard. The units were built over a ten-year period, from 2003 to 2013. Three years prior, 12 brands of dehumidifiers were recalled.

2013 Recall
2016 Recall

If you own a portable dehumidifier, we encourage you to check to see if your unit is included in these nationwide recalls.

Contact the indoor air quality experts at WestAIR Heating & Cooling to discuss the benefits of whole house dehumidifiers for your home and your family.

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Top Tips: How to Lower Your Summer Cooling Costs

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

How to Lower Summer Cooling Costs - WestAIR

Summer has arrived. And even though the temps are soaring, your energy costs don’t have to. We’ve put together our top tips to keep your cooling costs in check this summer.

Monitor Your Thermostat

Keep an eye on your thermostat settings. If your family is curled up under blankets on the couch, it’s a good sign that your thermostat is set too low. Aim for between 72 and 78 degrees in summer. Even bumping up the number 2 to 4 degrees will have an impact on your bill.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

For the ultimate in home comfort and energy efficiency, install a programmable thermostat. Today’s technology allows you to access and control your home’s temperature remotely, and some thermostats will even “learn” and adjust to your family’s schedule. If you’ve already got a programmable thermostat, make sure you’re using it correctly.

Change Your Air Filter

Change out your air filter on a regular basis to ensure maximum air flow, improve overall efficiency, and prevent coil ice-ups.

Close Your Blinds

Blocking out sunlight by closing your blinds can not only reduce your cooling costs, it also can keep out harmful UV rays.

Cook Outside

Things can really heat up in the kitchen during the summer. Fire up the grill instead.

Bonus Tip: Flip the Switch

Unplug unused electronics or appliances. Use surge protector power strips or switched outlets that can be easily turned on and off. Don’t leave lights on in unoccupied rooms. While this may not directly keep your cooling costs down, you’ll still save on your electric bill.

Call WestAIR for an Annual Service Maintenance Check

It’s not too late to have your system checked by our professional technicians. We’ll make sure your system is running at the highest level of efficiency, determine if any repairs are needed, and make recommendations for replacement if necessary. We carry top quality air conditioning brands for the highest in energy efficiency.

Contact the cooling experts at WestAIR today. Call us at 763-498-8071.

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Take Care of your Home Before You Travel

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

With the kids off from school and long holiday weekends, summer makes the perfect time for a family vacation. AAA reports more than 40 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles away from home this summer. Ensure your home remains safe with these easy tips:

  • Switch off / unplug all electrical appliances (except the refrigerator / freezer!)
  • Turn your air conditioner off, or even better – set your programmable setback or Wi-Fi thermostat to “away” status to keep a manageable temperature
  • Ensure valuable personal items are away from windows (televisions, computers and other electronics)
  • Store other valuables in a safe place
  • Pause all deliveries such as newspapers and mail
  • Use a timer device to automatically turn on lights at a pre-scheduled time of day
  • Avoid any mention of travel on social networking sites

Contact WestAIR Heating & Cooling at 763.498.8071 if you have any questions about seasonal settings for your Air Conditioner, Furnace, Thermostat, Humidifier or Air Exchanger!

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