Keeping Air Ducts Clean

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

In a previous blog, we discussed air duct cleaning and maintenance. Because these duties help provide better indoor air quality, we wanted to mention them again and reiterate their importance to your home and health. Learn more about some reasons for keeping air ducts clean and ways to do so.

Indoor Air

Wherever you go, it only makes sense that you want to breathe the cleanest, healthiest air possible.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average American spends 90 percent of their life indoors. As such, it’s important for your home’s air to be free of as many contaminants as possible. This is especially important since the accumulation of indoor air pollutants is exponentially higher than regular outdoor concentrations.

Some effects of poor indoor air include respiratory issues and disease, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Oftentimes indoor air pollutants can increase the intensity of issues like asthma and even cause eye, nose, or throat dryness and irritation. Protect yourself and your family by keeping air ducts and your home’s air clean.

Duct, Duct, Dirty Duct?

Your HVAC system often pulls in outside air to condition and distribute through the home, so dirt, dust, and other allergens find their way in. Since the ductwork throughout your home is hidden, you probably don’t give it much thought. And because it’s hidden, it’s more difficult to access and clean.

So how do you know if your ductwork is hiding something unhealthy? Look for telltale signs, such as:

  • Dust. If you continually notice dust even after you’ve cleaned, check your vents. Remove the register cover to see if the ductwork is lined with dirt or dust, too.
  • Cost increase. Are your utility bills noticeably higher compared to the same time last year? Your HVAC system may be working harder (and less efficiently) because of restricted airflow. This could be from dirty ducts or dirty air filters. A trusted technician can perform an inspection and determine the cause. 

Keeping Air Ducts Cleaner

Routine home maintenance can help keep your air ducts cleaner and your indoor air fresher.

Check and change HVAC filters. This could be every 30 days or every few months, depending on how often your system runs, if you have pets, or if you have younger children or allergy sufferers in the home. Check the filter on a regular basis and change it as needed.

Have your HVAC system inspected at least once a year to ensure it is operating at peak performance. This will also allow you to catch and fix any smaller issues before they become potentially bigger problems. Routine maintenance can extend the life of your heating and cooling systems, saving you money in the long run.

Complete household chores each week. This includes dusting hard surfaces and flooring, vacuuming carpeted areas (and vent covers), and running bedding through the wash. Also, vacuum and wash pet bedding as needed, and consider a high-quality HEPA filter vacuum to further reduce indoor air contaminants.

A few upgrades will also go a long way toward improving air quality at home.

  • Rid your home of dry air with a whole house humidifier. Dry air can make skin to feel tight and itchy or cause nose or throat discomfort. The wood inside your home can also be negatively affected by dryness. Adding moisture to the air can increase your overall home comfort.
  • Remove odors and pollutants with a UV light air purification system. A BreatheCLEAN UV air purifier works with your current HVAC system and removes contaminants to provide continuous protection.

Small changes to daily, weekly, and yearly routines can help with keeping air ducts clean while increasing overall indoor air quality. If you think your ductwork should be checked, rely on the experienced professionals at WestAIR Heating & Cooling.

Contact us today to learn more about our duct cleaning or other services.

This entry was posted in Duct Cleaning,Health Tips,Humidifier,Humidity,HVAC Maintenance,Indoor Air Quality,Spring,Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Tips for Extending the Lifespan of HVAC Equipment

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Woman setting her programmable thermostat - a great investment for extending the lifespan of HVAC equipment.

When it comes to weather, Minnesota is a place of extremes. Our harsh, bitterly cold winters and hot, humid summer days make a functioning furnace and air conditioner crucial to a comfy home. Follow these tips for extending the lifespan of HVAC equipment to get the most out of your system.

Schedule Preventative Maintenance Twice Annually

Have your system professionally serviced before each heating and cooling season for a thorough tune-up, cleaning, and maintenance service to ensure peak performance and efficiency. Your technician will also catch minor issues to prevent costly repairs later on, as well as help you decide if it’s better to repair or replace.

But don’t wait for maintenance service or a total breakdown to have your system inspected. If you notice strange sounds or smells, decreased efficiency or performance, or any other warning signs, call your local HVAC professionals to diagnose and repair the issue before it gets worse.

Have Ductwork Professionally Cleaned Every Other Year

Dirt, dust, pollen, and other debris naturally settle inside your ductwork over time. This buildup not only impacts airflow and efficiency, but it also becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. As your HVAC unit pumps air to the home, these contaminants get blown out with it and decrease your indoor air quality.

Schedule professional duct cleaning service once every two years to help maintain air quality and reduce stress placed on the system.

Maintain a Clean Air Filter

Clogged filters decrease airflow, forcing the system to work harder and experience a higher level of wear and tear. They’re also the number one cause of breakdowns. Remember to clean or change your HVAC system’s air filter every month.

Take Care of the Condenser Unit

While A/C condenser units are designed to withstand the elements, they’re not invincible. Inspect your condenser for any damage or debris buildup on occasion, especially after severe storms and instances of hail. Additionally, give the unit two to three feet of space to easily and efficiently draw in air. Keep the unit and surrounding space clean and clear of obstructions as well as grass clippings, leaves, branches, dirt, and other debris.

Check the Drainage Pipe Regularly

HVAC systems feature a PVC pipe on the indoor unit that leads outside to drain excess condensation. Serious damage to this outlet line can result in expensive repairs, so inspect yours regularly for blockages, debris, and any other issues. Be sure to do so more frequently in winter due to the potential of ice or snow deposits.

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

Being strategic with your thermostat can help lower utility bills and stress on your system. However, constantly adjusting the temperature can have the opposite effect. With a programmable thermostat, you can preset temperature and humidity levels over multiple days without worrying about manual adjustments.

Ease Stress on the System in Other Ways

Give your HVAC system a break whenever possible to maximize its performance and useful life. For more information, check out our helpful guides to optimizing HVAC efficiency in the winter and summer.

Heating and cooling systems contribute up to half of a home’s energy consumption, and we rely on them throughout the year in our state. Use this guide to extending the lifespan of HVAC equipment to keep the air in your home clean and comfy for years to come.

Backed by over 30 years of industry experience, locally owned and operated WestAIR has the knowledge and expertise for all your heating, cooling, and indoor air quality needs. Contact us to learn more about our services.

This entry was posted in AC,Air Conditioning,Cooling,Duct Cleaning,Energy Savings,Fall,Furnace,Health Tips,Heating,Humidity,HVAC Maintenance,Indoor Air Quality,Tips,Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Winter Furnace Maintenance Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Woman performing routine cleaning on a heating unit, one of a few simple but important winter furnace maintenance tips.

We rely on our heating systems a lot during Minnesota’s long, brutal winters. As we continue through the coldest months of the year, homeowners should take steps to minimize stress on their HVAC system to help prevent inconvenient breakdowns and costly repairs. Use these winter furnace maintenance tips to enjoy optimal performance, efficiency, and comfort all season long.

  1. Keep the air filter clean. A clogged filter forces the HVAC system to work harder, decreases efficiency, and is also the most common cause of breakdowns. Be sure to change or clean your air filter every month.
  2. Maintain a clear, clean area around the unit. Giving your furnace room to breathe promotes safe, efficient operation, as well as easy access to the unit for you or your HVAC specialist if necessary. As a general rule, give your furnace or indoor air handling unit three feet of clearance and clean the space regularly.
  3. Inspect flue pipes for damage. Your furnace naturally produces gases during the combustion process, and flue pipes carry these gases to your home’s ventilation system to be safely exhausted. Check the pipes for any damage that could be leaking CO into the home, as well as signs of soot and/or rusting. Have an experienced HVAC technician inspect any issues immediately.
  4. Clean supply and return vents. Supply vents feed warm air produced by your furnace to your home; return vents pull old indoor air and deliver it to the HVAC system to maintain indoor air quality and comfort. Cleaning them helps prevent dust and other airborne irritants from getting into the air you breathe or sucked back into the system.
  5. Check for signs of dirty ductwork. Air ducts carry air between your HVAC system and home and naturally collect dirt, dust, and other debris over time. Issues to look for include mold around your vents or furnace, excessive dust accumulation (especially around vents), inconsistent heating throughout the home, unexplained increases in allergy symptoms and/or respiratory problems, and signs of a rodent or pest infestation. Schedule professional duct cleaning service if you see any of these, and plan to do so annually.
  6. Turn the temperature down but keep the system on. Turning the thermostat down at night or when the house is empty can help cut utility costs, but don’t turn the system completely off. Having to fire the furnace back up whenever you wake up or return home requires more energy and adds unnecessary stress. Just remember to go no lower than 55 degrees (or closer to 60 during extreme cold) to help prevent frozen pipes. For ultimate ease and efficiency, consider installing a programmable thermostat that lets you pre-set temperature settings for multiple days ahead of time.
  7. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Don’t wait for a complete breakdown to give your furnace the attention it needs. If you notice uneven or inefficient heating, unexplained spikes in energy bills, or any other furnace issue warning signs, call WestAIR for professional diagnosis and repair before the issue gets worse.

It may be the beginning of a new year, but we have a lot of cold days and harsh weather ahead of us yet. Follow these winter furnace maintenance tips to help your heating system run safely, efficiently, and uninterrupted for the rest of the season.

Trust the highly knowledgeable and experienced HVAC professionals at WestAIR for all your heating and cooling needs. Contact us to learn more.

This entry was posted in Duct Cleaning,Energy Savings,Furnace,Health Tips,Heating,HVAC Maintenance,Indoor Air Quality,Tips,Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.  

This entry was posted in Fall,Furnace,HVAC Maintenance,Tips,Uncategorized and tagged , , , , ,

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.

This entry was posted in AC,Air Conditioning,Cooling,Duct Cleaning,Energy Savings,Tips 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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