Indoor Air Quality Tips to Help You Breathe Easy This Summer

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

In the hottest summer months, there’s nothing quite like drinking a glass of iced tea and sitting in an air-conditioned room. But that seeming escape can actually be detrimental for your health if you have poor indoor air quality. From headaches, fatigue, and trouble concentrating to irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, indoor air contaminants have been linked to diseases like asthma. How can you improve the air quality in your home? There are a number of available solutions. We’ve pulled a few of them together here to help you decide which one is right for you. Read on as we discuss indoor air quality tips to help you breathe easy this summer.

Air Exchangers for Fresh, Filtered Outdoor Air

Circulation is critical for good indoor air quality. Stale indoor air can become thick with contaminants and excess humidity, which can lead to mold growth. An air exchanger like the Venmar® Ventilation System, provides your home with a continuous flow of filtered outdoor air, reducing humidity and expelling pollutants from the home.

Take Air Quality a Step Further with an Air Cleaner

With an air cleaner, you can upgrade your existing heating and cooling system to help you improve the air you breathe. These systems capture airborne dust, pollen, and other particles far better than your standard furnace filter, helping eliminate pollutants in the air.

The Power of Ultraviolet Light

UV light technology can go beyond removing airborne particles to eliminating volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and reducing microorganisms. The best part? UV air purification systems like the BreatheCLEAN UV air purifier can be easily installed into existing ductwork with no major changes to your HVAC system.

If you’re looking to breathe easier, the experienced indoor air quality professionals at WestAIR are here to help. See what our customers have to say, and then contact us to schedule a service today!

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Money-Saving Tips to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

The warm weather is almost here, and while the sunshine is more fun for the family, it can also mean an increase in your energy bill. Try these money-saving tips to keep your home cool this summer.

Replace Your Air Filters

A dirty air filter restricts air flow for your home’s HVAC system, which makes it less efficient, ultimately costing more to cool your home. Most air filters last up to three months, but if you have pets or allergies, you’ll want to replace them more often. We advise changing your filters every month, even during cooling season. A dirty or clogged filter is the number one reason for AC failure. Check the recommendation on your air filter’s packaging or install a smart thermostat to tell you when it’s time to swap out your filter.

Service your AC

The start of summer is a great time to make sure your air conditioner is ready to take on the heat. Make sure your condensing unit—the outdoor section of your central AC system—is clear of grass, leaves, pet hair, and other debris. If your system is older, have a professional out to service your air conditioner.

Adjust Your Thermostat

If you’re not home during the day, consider setting your thermostat seven to ten degrees higher. This can save as much as ten percent on your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Can’t remember to make those adjustments? A seven-day programmable thermostat allows separate programming for each day to help you save on your cooling costs.

Consider Zoning

A zoning system takes temperature regulation a step further, separating your home into the living area and the sleeping area. This means you don’t waste energy (and money) cooling parts of the home you aren’t using during the hottest parts of the day.

The money-saving tips can help improve your home’s cooling efficiency this summer. The experienced HVAC professionals at West Air are here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our HVAC experts.

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4 Spring HVAC Reminders to Prepare for Cooling Season

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Spring officially began on March 20 and despite some chilly days and “surprise” snowfall, cooling season is on its way. You may be ready for the shift, but is your air conditioner? Use these spring HVAC reminders and tips to help prepare your system for the hot summer days ahead.

Cleaning Tips Around the Home

Whether you’ve already finished your spring cleaning or have yet to bust out the rubber gloves, don’t forget to incorporate your HVAC system into your routine:

  • Dust and disinfect floors and hard surfaces around the home. Keeping them clean helps prevent dirt, allergens, and other airborne particles from getting inside your ductwork.
  • Clear debris buildup from exhaust fans. After making sure the power is off, wash with soapy water and use a toothbrush to clean dirt and debris off the fan blades.
  • Clean windows, blinds, and curtains. That way you can let in fresh air and sunlight without a producing a cloud of built-up dust whenever you open them.
  • Dust the blades of your ceiling fans. Similarly, you don’t want dust to fly all over whenever you turn the fan on. And remember to run fans counterclockwise in the summer to blow air straight down and create a windchill effect.
  • Clean the grills of floor registers and air vents. Use a vacuum to remove collected dust and debris. For a deeper clean, remove the vent, scrub the individual grill spaces with a rag and butter knife, and then rinse with warm soapy water.

Have your Ductwork Professionally Cleaned

While regular dusting, mopping, vacuuming, and cleaning of the vents and registers helps minimize the amount of debris that gets into your ductwork, there’s no way to prevent it entirely. Duct cleaning helps prevent dust, pollen, and other harmful particles from accumulating and impacting the health of your HVAC system and indoor air quality.

Seal the Home

Don’t let the cool air your HVAC system produces go to waste. Check windows, doors, and exterior walls for cracks and seams that could let indoor air escape and hot, humid outdoor air sneak in. Seal them with caulk to help maintain efficient cooling.

…but Provide Proper Ventilation

Providing fresh air and adequate ventilation are vital to maintaining indoor air quality. Open windows on nice days for natural ventilation and air flow. Consider installing an air exchanger that simultaneously removes stale, recycled indoor air while supplying fresh, filtered air from outside.

Test the System & Schedule Preventative Maintenance

Don’t wait for the first hot, humid day of the year to test your air conditioner. Turn the system on now to check for any issues, and schedule annual preventative maintenance with the local HVAC experts at WestAIR to ensure optimal performance, efficiency, and safety.

With Minnesota’s unpredictable weather, spring can feel like little more than a brief break between the last snowfall and the first hot, humid day of summer. Don’t let the window sneak by without giving your home’s air conditioner some much needed TLC! Use these spring HVAC reminders to help ensure your system is ready to keep your home cool and cozy all season long.

For all your heating and cooling needs, trust the knowledgeable, experienced HVAC professionals at WestAIR. Contact us to learn more about our services.

This entry was posted in AC,Air Conditioning,Cooling,Duct Cleaning,Energy Savings,Health Tips,HVAC Maintenance,Indoor Air Quality,Spring,Tips 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Tips for Winter Indoor Air Quality Maintenance

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Women enjoying a hot beverage from the warmth and comfort of her home during winter.

With the recent snowfall and chilly temps, there’s no denying that winter is almost here. Time to prepare! As heating season makes its way to Minnesota, we must remember to keep the air in our home clean as well as warm. Use this guide to winter indoor air quality maintenance to keep your family cozy, healthy, and happy throughout the season.

Poor Winter Indoor Air Quality: Causes and Effects

When cold weather hits, we seal our homes to prevent the warm air produced by our furnaces from escaping. While this helps increase comfort and energy efficiency, it also traps dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants inside the home that then decrease indoor air quality. Common signs of poor winter indoor air quality include:

  • Dry, itchy, or watery eyes
  • Cold or flu symptoms: coughing, sneezing, nausea
  • Heightened symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illness
  • Fatigue and trouble concentrating
  • Irritation of the nose and throat, particularly dryness
  • Headaches

Tips for Winter Indoor Air Quality Maintenance

Escaping the bitter cold of Minnesota winters means spending more time inside our home, making clean indoor air crucial to our comfort and health. Thankfully, homeowners can improve and maintain air quality with these helpful tips.

  1. Clean regularly – Don’t let dust, mold spores, and other pollutants build up around the home. Dust hard surfaces and vacuum (using a vacuum with a HEPA filter if possible) at least weekly. Use non-toxic cleaners free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are a major contributor to unhealthy air.
  2. Maintain a clean filter Air filters keep dust and other debris from entering and harming your HVAC system, but must be maintained in order to prevent these irritants from making their way back into the air. Remember to change air filters monthly or clean if resuable.
  3. Schedule annual service maintenance – Ensure your heating system runs at peak performance and provides clean, warm air with professional maintenance service from a WestAIR HVAC expert.
  4. Have your ductwork cleaned – Dirt, dust, pet hair and dander, and other irritants settle inside your air ducts over time. Schedule duct cleaning service before winter is in full swing, and plan to do so annually.
  5. Enhance ventilation with an air exchanger – Sealing the home in winter leads to recycled, stale air inside. To resolve this, air exchangers deliver a continuous flow of fresh, filtered outdoor air while simultaneously exhausting unhealthy indoor air.
  6. Control humidity with a whole house humidifier – Humidity plays a crucial role for indoor air quality. Dry winter air can cause nose, throat, and skin discomfort, as well as damage wood fixtures and furniture over time. Installing a whole house humidifier will help maintain proper humidity levels in your home.
  7. Consider additional clean air solutions Air cleaners work with your current system to remove excess dust and other irritants that decrease indoor air quality. Ultraviolet (UV) light purification systems utilize UV rays to eliminate odors harmful airborne pathogens like viruses, bacteria, mold, and VOCs.

This year has presented us all with new and unique challenges. But no matter how unpredictable 2020 has been, we know we can always plan for harsh winter weather here in Minnesota. We’re already seeing the temps drop and snow fall, so don’t wait! Use these winter indoor air quality maintenance tips to enjoy clean, comfy air inside your home this heating season.

For all your heating and cooling needs, trust the HVAC experts at WestAIR. Contact us today to learn more.

This entry was posted in Duct Cleaning,Furnace,Health Tips,Heating,Humidifier,Humidity,HVAC Maintenance,Indoor Air Quality,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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

We hope all of you mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers have a wonderful Mother’s Day being cherished by your loved ones!

 

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Fall is a Great Time to Clean Your Air Ducts

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

The coldest months of the year are on the horizon which means Minnesotans will spend increasingly more time indoors. That also means we’ll be breathing the indoor air from our home’s HVAC duct system. Improving your indoor air quality is simple.

As a HVAC system circulates air throughout your home, it also moves around dust, dirt and allergens. Over time, these substances collect in your duct system, causing your system to work harder to provide the level of comfort you desire. Having your ducts cleaned by our professional WestAIR technician will ensure your ducts are free and clear of pollutants, and that you and your family are breathing in the cleanest indoor air possible.

Fall is a great time to schedule this preventative maintenance before the winter season hits. Not only will you breath easier, but you’ll also save money in the long run by performing this simple step.

Learn more about Duct Cleaning by contacting WestAIR Heating & Cooling today at 763.498.8071 or check WestAirHeating.com for more info and current specials.

 

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Go Leaf Peeping: 3 Scenic Drives to Take This Fall

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Cruise down any ol’ street during the autumn months, and you’ll likely find yourself oogling out the window at the gorgeous reds, yellows, oranges, greens and browns of tree-line boulevards. There’s no lack of colorful scenic drives in Minnesota this time of year, that’s for sure.

Make a day of it; grab your loved ones and pile into the car to take in some particularly spectacular sites around our great state this time of year. You won’t want to miss these:

WINONA
Located alongside the Mississippi River, Winona offers some breathtaking views.  Check out the Garvin Heights lookout while you’re there for sweeping views of the city below, or a warm cup of soup and a sandwich at the Acoustic Cafe.

STILLWATER
Admire the leaves along the St. Croix River, then grab a beer at Maple Island Brewing or peruse the many gift and antique shops in the bustling downtown area.

DULUTH
Great fall colors and great lake views; what’s not to love? Several state parks along the North Shores of Lake Superior offer hiking trails and scenic overlooks. A mid-week trip might be best to avoid the crowds.

Be sure to check the Minnesota DNR’s Fall Color Finder to find the peak time to go leaf peeping. IMG_5329

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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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