HVAC Checklist for Winter Trips 10 Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

When winter hits in Minnesota, it’s easy to understand why some of us want a temporary escape to somewhere warm. Others might head up north for long ice fishing trips or to enjoy the winter wonderland. Whatever the reason to leave the house empty, you want to make sure it’s prepared for the weather. If you’re planning an extended vacation this season, follow this HVAC checklist for winter trips to help keep your home safe while you’re away.

  1. Turn the thermostat down but not off. There’s no need to keep an empty home comfortably warm, but you want to help protect against frozen pipes. It’s recommended to set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees (closer to 60 during severe cold) and to open closet and cabinet doors so the warm air can reach the plumbing. For extended trips away from home, shut off the main water valve, drain remaining water by opening faucets, and leave them open until you return.
  2. Change or clean the air filter. Ensure your system has a fresh filter to prevent efficiency and performance issues while you’re away. And remember to change (or clean if reusable) your air filter monthly!
  3. Seal the home to trap the heat in and the cold out. The lower thermostat setting makes sealing warm air inside the home even more important. Check around windows, doors, and exterior walls and fix any potential leaks with caulk. And before you leave, lock all windows and doors to ensure a tight seal.
  4. Clean the home (especially dusting). Sealing the home naturally decreases ventilation. Clean the house to reduce the presence of dust and other airborne pollutants that impact indoor air quality, using extra care while vacuuming carpets and dusting hard surfaces.
  5. Clear/clean the area around the furnace/HVAC unit. Generally, there should be at least 3 feet of distance around your furnace or indoor air handling unit. Move any potential obstructions and clean the area, and ensure flammable items are kept far away from the unit.
  6. Ensure vents are clean and clear of obstructions. Similarly, make sure that the vents that feed the warm air to your home are dusted, cleaned, and free of obstructions – a closed or blocked vent will alter the system’s even distribution of air and decrease efficiency.
  7. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Make sure they are clean and working properly with fresh batteries, and remember they should be tested weekly and cleaned at least monthly. You should refer to the manufacturer’s manual regarding maintenance and replacement schedules, but CO detectors should typically be replaced every five years and smoke detectors every 10.
  8. Unplug unnecessary appliances for extra safety and savings. Large appliances like TVs and sound systems, as well as smaller ones like coffee pots and toasters, will draw some electricity even when not in use. Unplug any appliances that don’t need power while you’re away to help reduce your utility bill.
  9. Make plans for monitoring. Consult your local HVAC company about any remote monitoring options available for your system. Before you leave home, notify close friends, family, and neighbors who can keep an eye out for any issues that you’ll be away. If you feel comfortable enough, consider giving a spare key to someone you trust so they can check on your home and provide updates.
  10. Schedule a professional inspection/maintenance service. The best way to ensure optimal safety, performance, and efficiency of your system is to schedule a professional inspection and maintenance service with an HVAC technician. Call the pros at WestAIR!

If you’re planning a fun, relaxing adventure away from home, the last thing you want to return to is a broken furnace, frozen pipes, or any other disaster around the house. Follow this HVAC checklist for winter trips to keep your home protected.

For all your residential heating and cooling needs, trust the experience and expertise of the professionals at WestAIR. Contact us to learn more.

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

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.

This entry was posted in AC,Air Conditioning,Cooling,Duct Cleaning,Energy Savings,Indoor Air Quality,Repairs,Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

This entry was posted in AC,Air Conditioning,Cooling,Duct Cleaning,Health Tips,Indoor Air Quality,Spring,Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

This entry was posted in AC,Air Conditioning,Cooling,Duct Cleaning,Health Tips,Indoor Air Quality,Spring,Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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

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